February 16, 2009

Always at Work

Last week there was a newspaper article about a job opening with the state for a minimum wage position.  There were 5,000 applications for the job.  It's a bit scary to think that that many people would be competing for a very low paying position.  Each day in the news, we see more and more people who are at home while they attempt to find work.  What are we to think, and how shall we keep a healthy, positive outlook?

From an absolute spiritual standpoint, wherever we go, we are always in the right place.  We cannot not be in the right place.  When we truly know this at the deepest level possible,  we can realize that wherever we are, we are engaged in the right livelihood of spiritual activity.  Right livelihood is one of the practices on the 8-fold Path taught by the Buddha and is an aspect of living ethical conduct in the world.  The word "livelihood" comes from the Old English "way of life" or "course of life."  Right livelihood is the means of securing the necessities of life.  What is more important than finding our balance in the spiritual aspects of everyday life?  Isn't a balanced spiritual life one of our great necessities?

So, if we get laid off, if we lose our employment due to the economic times, it can be terribly frightening and uncomfortable and we may feel a sense of panic or who knows what other physical response.  After all, we have children to feed, a spouse, a home to take care of.  These are not idle matters.  But, it is the moment to remain calm and confident in our spiritual lives.  That's the moment to see that Buddha Nature is always at work.  This is our source of reliance in the most dreadful of circumstances. In the Lotus Sutra we can find this point of reliance in the most daunting situations and we can know that we will find our Way.  Most important, we can keep our poise and presence of mind by rooting ourselves firmly in practice.  Ultimately, we're all in this together and we're all finding our Way.

The Three Treasures, Buddha-Dharma-Sangha are always at work.  When times such as these are so difficult, we can call on Sangha for help.  It's a Treasure beyond compare.  We may be giving the opportunity of extraordinary merit to a Sangha member to help us.  A number of years ago, some friends of mine were about to lose their home to foreclosure.  At a meditation meeting, their need was reported to the Sangha.  Several days later, someone who had heard the story and did not even know them, walked up and handed them the money, about $5,000, to cover back installments on the mortgage.  This is a true story, and this is the true Sangha always at work.