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Lions Roar : January 2018
ADVICE FOR DIFFICULT TIMES My Livelihood Doesn’t Seem Right MICHAEL CARROLL on what to do when your work doesn’t align with your values. Question: I work at a large energy com- pany. I love my job, my colleagues, and my workplace culture, but intellectually I know that my company does harm to the planet. Can I respect the Buddhist prin- ciple of right livelihood and keep a job I enjoy? If so, how? Answer: In our pursuit of right liveli- hood, it is fitting to consider the harm that our employers may be causing our world. It is equally fitting to recognize that our employers—whether pharma- ceutical companies, banks, social media businesses, and yes, even energy corpo- rations—also do tremendous good for others, fostering health, well-being, and safety for billions worldwide. For Buddhists, holding such a paradox in our hearts can be a noble and inspir- ing challenge: how can we strengthen the compassionate impulses of modern-day enterprises while limiting the harm? First, we can recognize the toxicity and damage unfolding from the workplace, but not be blinded by it. As Buddhists, we are committed to helping others in distress, and what better place to lend a hand than where it is most needed? Second, we can be engaged Buddhists whatever our occupation—as a scientist, teacher, computer programmer, truck driver, salesperson. We can cheerfully promote what is healthy, fearlessly con- front what is toxic, and compassionately protect what is vulnerable. It is our inten- tion that is central: we go to work not just for a paycheck, but to inspire the best in others and encourage health and well- being for all sentient beings. Finally, we can bring the wisdom we discover in our meditation practice into the workplace. That begins with engaging livelihood as awakened activity. For, in the end, right livelihood is less about stand- ing up for what is “right” and more about authentically and skillfully helping a world that, in so many respects, has lost its way. ♦ ALBERTOOSTACCHINI MICHAEL CARROLL is a teacher in the Kagyu-Nyingma school of Vajrayana Buddhism and author of Mindful Leadership Training. Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org Explore consciousness through an interdisciplinary approach that includes the neurosciences, anthropology of consciousness, transpersonal psychology, and the arts and humanities. WHERE BODY, MIND AND SPIRIT MEET Learn more at goddard.edu/cs Goddard Graduate Institute LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2018 22