Table of Contents
By: Wayne Muller
"The practice of loving kindness must find its root deep within us. The story is told that Mohandas Gandhi once settled in a village and at once began serving the needs of the villagers who lived there. A friend inquired if Gandhi's objectives in serving the poor were purely humanitarian. Gandhi replied, 'Not at all. I am here to serve no one else but myself, to find my own self-realization through the service of these village folk.'
As Gandhi wisely points out, even as we serve others we are working on ourselves; every act, every word, every gesture of genuine compassion naturally nourishes our own hearts as well. It is not a question of who is healed first. When we attend to ourselves with compassion and mercy, more healing is made available for others. And when we serve others with an open and generous heart, great healing comes to us."
The word labor seems to conjure up hard labor, ball and chain stuff, or perhaps the intensity of childbirth, since those are the connotations usually assigned. But what of the elegance and beauty of labor, the sensitivity and love that is expressed in willing service, the satisfaction of a job well done, and the work that we do that makes a difference in someone's life, including our own? Those are not coarse, difficult acts, but rather, demonstrations of real giving, as close to divine as we can get. Let us not paint the concept of work with such disdain, from which we seek relief, but rather, let's regard work as a privilege, to develop ourselves and serve others, to make a significant contribution and leave a discernable mark where we once stood. No matter what you have chosen as your life's work, you can be important and do special things for yourself and others. There are no small roles, only small players. There are opportunities all around you – do you see them? Noticing these chances to do good will grow you from the inside out, and make your life that much better – when you realize the power you wield when you roll up your sleeves and get things done.
My favorite poem was written by Tagore –
"I slept, and dreamt that life was joy.
I woke, and found that life was service.
I acted – and behold, service became joy!"
Hidden in every chore or occupation are golden nuggets of self-love and self-discovery, as well as universal benefit, and when you enter the workplace with that joie de vivre, it makes each day that much more pleasurable and that much more worthwhile.
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© 2000, Peter Lance Segall
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