Advertisement

Mindfulness Matters

Mindfulness Matters

Labor Day: What Are We Being Mindful of Today?

It’s Labor Day. Today seems like one of many holidays that has become a generic “holiday” without reference to its original purpose. Memorial Day and Labor Day mark the beginning and end of the summer season in the Northeast United States. You’re not supposed to wear white pants after today. I doubt many of us consider the significance of the holiday beyond that.

Labor Day celebrates the contributions (often of their lives) of American workers. It became a Federal Holiday in 1894 and was celebrated by most states before then. Is that what you’ll be contemplating today? Labor Day is a good time to think about our work in the world, what the Buddha called Right Livelihood. What efforts do we make? What service do we provide?

Advertisement

We are problem-solving animals. Our brains grew so large, in part, by successfully solving problems — where to find reliable sources of food, for instance. We are also manual creatures. We evolved using our hands to make tools, and to engage effectively with the world around us. Today, many of us have professions where we do not use our hands in meaningful ways (I don’t think moving a mouse and keyboard qualify).

What impact does the work we do have on the world? Is it beneficial for others? Is it harming others? Like speech and action, livelihood depends on context and intention. You could work for the greatest charity on the planet, but if you engage with your work with anger, rancor, and bitterness is it still right livelihood? You could be a butcher with love and compassion bursting from your heart. Is this not right livelihood?

Advertisement

It’s tempting to want certainty, neat categories that tell us what is OK and what is not. The world is much grayer than this. Mindfulness can help us to engage with life in ways that will be beneficial to others and ourselves.

Life can be praxis — the lived experience of practice. Life isn’t a theory; it is here right now. “What do we want to do today” and “how do we want to be today” are two questions that when brought together can help us towards right livelihood.

Previous Posts

Everything Essential Buddhism
I am pleased to announce the release of the Everything Essential Buddhism Book. This book is an abridgment of the popular Everything Guide to Buddhism, 2nd Edition. As the name implies, this book is a leaner, more essential, treatment of the ...

posted 5:38:17pm Jul. 18, 2015 | read full post »

I Forgot to Take a Selfie!
I was at Moss Glen Falls recently. These stunning little falls are on Route 100 in Warren, Vermont. I stopped and took photographs and video footage of them. When I was leaving and getting ready to get back onto my motorcycle, I saw a couple ...

posted 10:34:45am Jul. 13, 2015 | read full post »

Happy Birthday to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
July 6 will be the 80th birthday of His Holiness (HH) the Dalai Lama. I first encountered the Dalai Lama when he would have been ...

posted 2:06:43pm Jun. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Introverts and Extroverts at the Neuronal Level
Those of you who are familiar with my work know that I have a thing for metaphors. Those of you who have been to my workshops know that I have a thing for the brain. I have been delighted to read Giorgio Ascoli's book, Trees of the Brain, Roots ...

posted 12:11:28pm Jun. 23, 2015 | read full post »

Set Aside Greed and Distress with Reference to the World
The Buddha encouraged his monks to be "ardent, alert, & mindful" and to put "aside greed and distress in reference to the ...

posted 2:29:24pm Jun. 14, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.