Responsibilities at work

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Responsibilities at work

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:13 pm

I was reading DN 31 Sigalovada Sutta http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/dn/dn.31.0.ksw0.html, and noticed a list of a laymen responsibilities with their servants, as well as the laymen responsibilities with its employer:

In five ways should workers and servants as the lower direction be respected by an employer: by allocating work according to aptitude, providing wages and food, looking after the sick, sharing special treats, and giving reasonable time off work.

"And, workers and servants so respected reciprocate with compassion in five ways: being willing to start early and finish late when necessary, taking only what is given, doing work well, and promoting a good reputation.


Ho does this map with your experiences at work?
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 27, 2009 6:16 pm

I love my job and find no difficulty in keeping these five towards my employer.

:namaste:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby Jesse Smith » Tue Jan 27, 2009 7:07 pm

I work for Wal-mart. :rofl:
My mind sways between seeing this condition as overflowing with opportunities to practice Dhamma, and viewing it as an insurmountable challenge, kind of like a person initiating his efforts in celibacy by taking up residence in the Playboy mansion.

Directly related to my practice is the precept of not taking what is not given. I will confess to breaking this in the past, even when aware that I was breaking a precept. But once the idea that this would affect my efforts at meditation was planted in my mind, I found could directly see more suffering occur when breaking it versus keeping it. The enjoyment of eating the stolen pint of icecream would last minutes, while the suffering would occur before, during, and after.
Fellow workers constantly engage in conversations complaining about the conditions. While there is some substance in facts in their complaints, I realize the way they react to these facts is not skillful. It's a challenge to avoid joining in.

I'm conflicted between being grateful for a job, a full-time job with security in hard economic times, and the thought that I might be better off if I removed myself from a situation that constantly presents me with challenges I fail to meet with skill.

My supervisor has stated that all workers are expendable, they can be replaced with anyone off the street in minutes, and is eager to point a finger to the door.
I do see an opportunity to see his actions and attitude as unskillful, while avoiding labeling him as an evil person. I haven't stated this to him in any way, but it seems that his interaction with me has been more friendly and open since I have practiced this view.
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 27, 2009 10:06 pm

I find it easy to keep the five for my employer
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
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"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby retrofuturist » Wed Feb 25, 2009 8:39 am

Greetings,

It's interesting to note the (presumably more literal) translation from venerable Narada.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .nara.html

"The servants and employees thus ministered to as the Nadir by their master show their compassion to him in five ways:

(i) they rise before him,
(ii) they go to sleep after him,
(iii) they take only what is given,
(iv) they perform their duties well,
(v) they uphold his good name and fame.


Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby Khalil Bodhi » Wed Feb 25, 2009 9:16 am

Thank you Jesse for your reflections. Your committment to practice under tough conditions is an inspiration to me. May you be well, happy and peaceful! :anjali:
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby phil » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:02 am

I work for a greedy, short-sighted corporation (language school in Japan) but get around that very nicely by considering the students to be my employers, they are whom I work for. I think anyone who works in a service industry job can be helped by that sort of reflection re their customers. After all, most service industry employers have to be labour exploiters in order to survive in the market - it's the nature of capitalism - and it is not reasonable to be expected to have precepts of responsibility towards those who are exploiting you.

Metta,

Phil
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby jcsuperstar » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:31 am

arent the servants suposed to act this way to an employer who is acting also in the way taught by the buddha?

its a sort of if you treat your employees poorly ,expect them to treat you poorly type deal. not so much a kiss your jerk boss' ass kind of deal.
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby Rui Sousa » Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:30 pm

phil wrote:and it is not reasonable to be expected to have precepts of responsibility towards those who are exploiting you.


Why not?

I am not saying we should accept every situation, it is my believe we should speak out when faced with unreasonable situations and change when there is no other option, but is having a bad boss an excuse to fail our responsibilities?

Is being treated in a not so nice manner an excuse to feel anger?

Or ugliness an excuse for aversion?
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Mar 03, 2009 6:08 pm

jcsuperstar wrote:arent the servants suposed to act this way to an employer who is acting also in the way taught by the buddha?

its a sort of if you treat your employees poorly ,expect them to treat you poorly type deal. not so much a kiss your jerk boss' ass kind of deal.


I know I answered above from the circumstances at the time, but they changed a little while ago (nearly a month) and instead of going down the road of like for like I just left.
not going to be treated badly nor am I going to treat others badly, it is far better to keep our self respect than to degrade our practice
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: Responsibilities at work

Postby phil » Wed Mar 04, 2009 3:10 am

Hi Manapa and all
Rui Sousa wrote:
phil wrote:and it is not reasonable to be expected to have precepts of responsibility towards those who are exploiting you.


Why not?

I am not saying we should accept every situation, it is my believe we should speak out when faced with unreasonable situations and change when there is no other option, but is having a bad boss an excuse to fail our responsibilities?

Is being treated in a not so nice manner an excuse to feel anger?

Or ugliness an excuse for aversion?


Good points. But I wasn't really suggesting "failing responsibilities", was thinking more in terms of a kind of unconditional "going the extra mile", surpassing expectations in providing really generous, from the bottom of the heart service. That is my attitude towards the students (customers.) It is the kind of attitude towards loved ones, for example, that is taught in the Mangala sutta. (Highly recommended!)

I think if we were to strive to provide this kind of service from a place of utter generosity towards an exploitative employer (I'm talking about the kind of exploitation that leads to illness and sometimes death from overwork here in Japan) it would foster a kind of supressed anger that would eventually fester, cause illness and perhaps eventually result in a violent response. So I think it best to work with exploitative employers to help them see the errors of their ways - I'm a leading member of the union at my workplace. But an unconditional sense of devoted service to them? I don't know the commentary to the sutta that is quoted here, but it seems there is an implicit contract that must go both ways and is broken when it is broken. Maybe, maybe not. As you know, the Buddha was very reasonable and pragmatic when discussing householder issues such as property ownership. The Buddhist holy life goes against the ways of the world, but it seems to me the Buddha taught lay people in ways that allows them to function wisely and productively within the world. And one cannot function wisely and productively when one is exploited to the point of physical exhaustion, one cannot support one's family and friends in the way that is preached in the Mangala Sutta if one has been exploited to the point of physical exhaustion. (I guess in the previous point I said exploitation was inevitable in Capitalism, but obviously here I'm talking about something extreme, the kind of exploitation I witness and experience to a certain degree working in Japan.)

Metta,

Phil

p.s sorry if I'm not able to respond further for a few days.
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)
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