Being Buddha At Work

101 Ancient Truths on Change, Stress, Money, and Success

| 176 pages

Being Buddha At Work
  • Offers ancient solutions to today's workplace problems and provides new perspectives on timeless troubles
  • For people seeking to bring spiritual values to work or seeking to discover new beliefs and values through their work
  • Co-authored by Buddhist scholar Franz Metcalf and workplace expert BJ Gallagher

Buddhism has for thousands of years provided a spiritual foundation for the daily lives of millions of people around the world. But does Buddhism have anything to offer us-Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike-in today's world of work? Metcalf and Gallagher think it does. Spiritual wisdom, Western or Eastern, inspires and instructs us in living a good life. And that's just as true at work as at home.

Buddha mind-a source of calm, compassion, and insight-exists within each of us, not just the historical Buddha. Being Buddha at Work shows how to embody that mind in the stress and clamor of the workplace-how to tap into the Buddha consciousness so we can relieve daily tensions and greet challenges with awareness, equanimity, and good humor.

The book is divided into three sections. The first, "Becoming a Mindful Worker," covers Buddha's wisdom for our own work; the second, "Cultivating Mindful Work Relationships," focuses on how to work with other people; the third, "Creating a Mindful Workplace," deals with broader organizational topics. There is wisdom here for everyone-from frontline workers and team members, to supervisors and managers, to top executives and organizational leaders.

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Overview

  • Offers ancient solutions to today's workplace problems and provides new perspectives on timeless troubles
  • For people seeking to bring spiritual values to work or seeking to discover new beliefs and values through their work
  • Co-authored by Buddhist scholar Franz Metcalf and workplace expert BJ Gallagher

Buddhism has for thousands of years provided a spiritual foundation for the daily lives of millions of people around the world. But does Buddhism have anything to offer us-Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike-in today's world of work? Metcalf and Gallagher think it does. Spiritual wisdom, Western or Eastern, inspires and instructs us in living a good life. And that's just as true at work as at home.

Buddha mind-a source of calm, compassion, and insight-exists within each of us, not just the historical Buddha. Being Buddha at Work shows how to embody that mind in the stress and clamor of the workplace-how to tap into the Buddha consciousness so we can relieve daily tensions and greet challenges with awareness, equanimity, and good humor.

The book is divided into three sections. The first, "Becoming a Mindful Worker," covers Buddha's wisdom for our own work; the second, "Cultivating Mindful Work Relationships," focuses on how to work with other people; the third, "Creating a Mindful Workplace," deals with broader organizational topics. There is wisdom here for everyone-from frontline workers and team members, to supervisors and managers, to top executives and organizational leaders.

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Meet the Authors


Visit Author Page - Franz Metcalf



Franz Metcalf teaches religious studies at California State University, Los Angeles. He is the president of the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion and an active leader in the Forge Institute. His books include What Would Buddha Do? and Buddha in Your Backpack.

A scholar-practitioner of Buddhism, Franz received his doctorate from the University of Chicago. He is a review editor for Journal of Global Buddhism and author of scholarly works on Buddhism and psychology. He is a founding member and newsletter editor of the Forge Guild of Spiritual Leaders, and author of four books applying Buddhist wisdom and practice to our hectic everyday lives. His first, What Would Buddha Do? has appeared in a dozen languages.


Visit Author Page - BJ Gallagher


BJ Gallagher is a dynamic workshop leader and charismatic keynote speaker, as well as a much-published, bestselling author. She conducts seminars for women's groups, as well as professional organizations and corporations. Her topics include: leadership skills for women, male/female communication styles, how to manage your boss, thriving on change, and tapping into the creativity of diversity. BJ writes business books, women's books, and gift books.

To learn more about BJ and her work, visit her online here

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Foreword by His Holiness the Daiai Lama

Introduction: Putting Buddha to Work

Part One: Becoming a Mindful Worker

Chapter 1: Choosing Mindful Work -- Creating Right Livelihood

Chapter 2: Practical Enlightenment -- Chop Wood, Carry Water

Chapter 3: Quality of Work Life -- The Middle Way at Work

Chapter 4: Being Successful -- How Do You Define Success?

Chapter 5: Money and Happiness -- What's the Connection?

Chapter 6: Dealing with Change -- Riding the Waves of Impermanence

Part Two: Cultivating Mindful Work Relationships

Chapter 7: Working with Others -- Unity in Diversity

Chapter 8: Dealing with Difficult People -- Seeing All Beings as the Buddha

Chapter 9: Customers, Love 'Em or Lose 'Em -- Customer Service as Bodhisattva Activity

Part Three: Creating a Mindful Workplace

Chapter 10: Leadership and Bosses -- Lead, Follow, or Get Off the Path

Chapter 11: The Big Issues -- Beyond the Bottom Line

Chapter 12: Work Practices and Processes -- Practice is Awakening

Chapter 13: The Care and Feeding of Employees -- Your Team as Your Sangha

Chapter 14: Solving People Problems -- There are No Answers, Pursue Them Lovingly

Chapter 15: Organizational Change -- Everything Changes; Nothing Remains Without Change

Glossary of Buddhist Terms

Notes on Sources

About the Authors

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Being Buddha at Work

images Introduction

Putting Buddha to Work

THIS BOOK IS for people who seek to apply ancient spiritual wisdom to current workplace situations. Sometimes this means ancient solutions to today’s problems. Sometimes it means new perspectives on timeless troubles. In all cases, we put Buddha to work because he was not some solitary hermit; he was the founder and CEO of a growing organization. As you get into this book, you’ll see what we mean.

Most people who perform paid work outside the home spend more of their waking time at work than anywhere else. They see their bosses more than they do their spouses. They spend more time and energy dealing with difficult coworkers than they do with their own difficult children. For many of us, work itself has become an important way to establish personal identity, to meet social needs, to build satisfaction through accomplishment, and to find purpose and meaning in life. It’s also a place where we face the fundamental truths of the world according to Buddhism: everything is frustrating, everything is interconnected, and everything is impermanent. (Note that these are translations of dukkha, anatta, and anicca, the “three marks” of existence. See the glossary for more information on these and many other Buddhist terms.)

It should come as no surprise, then, that workers at all levels, in all kinds of organizations, are bringing their spiritual beliefs and values to work, or are seeking to discover new beliefs and values through their work. Many people see work as a place where they can live out their personal spirituality or their relationship with ultimate reality (however they define it); some even see their place of work as their primary spiritual community. We agree. We are trying to build the house of work on the rock of wisdom. This brings us to a vital question.

Buddhism has for thousands of years provided a spiritual foundation for the daily lives of millions around the world. But does Buddhism have anything to offer us—Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike—in today’s world of work? It does, and we offer it in this book. Such wisdom can inspire and instruct us in how to live a good life—a fulfilled, happy life. We offer you the teachings of the Buddha and his tradition, as well as our own application of these teachings to your work situations.

The Buddha and Buddhism

The Buddha was a human being, not a god. He compared himself to a doctor, dispensing the medicine of mindfulness—insight into our human problems, both as individuals and as groups. But more than offering insight into our problems, he taught us how to transcend them. Beginning with his own experience of enlightenment, or awakening (the word Buddha means “awakened one”), he created a system of thought—the Buddhist tradition—that provides helpful, practical answers to typical human situations we face in our work lives today. Buddhism is, above all, useful. It is not about pie in the sky; it is about here and now. It is not about theory; it is about practice. It is not just a way of thinking; it is a way of being and doing.

The Buddha was not born “Buddha”—he earned that name. He struggled with life just as we do today, and he discovered the keys to living. He sought to teach his discoveries to others, and we seek to continue his teaching by sharing it with you.

The core of the Buddha’s teaching lies in his very first sermon. In it, he taught that both self-indulgence and self-mortification are useless. They do not, in the end, lead to happiness, no matter the context. He then went on to teach the four noble truths: (1) Life is full of dukkha. We suffer because we get what we don’t want; we don’t get what we do want; and, even if we do get what we want, either we can’t keep it or we just worry about losing it. (2) Dukkha is caused by desire for things and attachment to things. (3) Desire can be ended (and so dukkha can be ended!). (4) The way to end desire is by following the eightfold noble path of right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration (again, see the glossary for more details).

It’s easy to see how relevant some of these aspects of the path are to the workplace. Others are harder. We’re here to help.

The Buddha in You (and Us)

This book is founded on the belief that the Buddha was not just a historical figure who lived 2,500 years ago. We believe that in a profound sense, the Buddha also exists within each of us at every moment. The Buddha exists in what has been called the Buddha mind or Buddha nature, the mind of the Buddha that lies sleeping within us, waiting to be awakened. We’ve all had moments of awakening—even if we’re not Buddhists—when something has roused the Buddha mind from slumber; moments when we’ve lived outside our limited selves, in union with all things, flowing with the unending current of life. This liberation (Christians might call it grace) does not come when we ask for it but when we’re open to it. When we think and act with this freedom, we don’t just act like Buddhas, we become Buddhas. Not Buddhists—that doesn’t matter—just Buddhas. Of course, we fall back into ourselves, but this fundamental freedom remains in the moment if we can just expand into it.

In this book, we draw on a wide variety of Buddhist texts, both ancient and modern, to help you experience that expansion. The dharma, the teaching of the Buddha, has grown through the centuries. In this way, Buddhism is a living thing, fostered by those who seek awakening in their own lives. A contemporary haiku by a poet writing from Buddha mind is just as sacred and legitimate as an ancient scroll by a venerated monk. Each inspired writer expands the dharma in his or her own work. We humbly try to expand the dharma in ours here.

This book aims to help you be the Buddha that you already are, to find your own Buddha nature, and to allow that nature to guide you in your workaday activities. The Buddha in you is your best teacher. We believe the workplace issues and challenges we’ve outlined here will help you bring that Buddha to life.

A Note About Using This Book

Our book is divided into three main parts. Part 1, “Becoming a Mindful Worker,” explores the Buddha’s wisdom for individuals. Here we cover such things as how to choose right livelihood, how to be a good employee, and how to be successful. Part 2, “Cultivating Mindful Work Relationships,” focuses on how to work with other people, including bosses, coworkers, work teams, difficult people, and customers. Part 3, “Creating a Mindful Workplace,” deals with broad organizational topics, including policies and procedures, human resources issues, technology, work processes, and organizational problems.

If you have a specific work problem on which you’d like some guidance, just look it up in the table of contents and go straight to the answer. Of course, we can’t list every possible situation in one book, but 108 issues is a pretty substantial sampling. You can also read straight through the book to get the big picture and begin to put together your own thoughts and practices for becoming more mindful and more accepting, wherever you are.

We have written for the broadest possible audience, from frontline workers to supervisors and managers to senior executives. There is wisdom and guidance here for entrepreneurs and small businesses, as well as Fortune 500 companies. Many of the ideas apply to nonprofit organizations as well as for-profit businesses. But of course, not all answers will be equally useful to all readers. Some are directed more to managers and business owners, while others are directed more to worker bees. But remember, like bees, we are all in this game of work together, so you may gain by reading answers that at first glance seem not to apply to you.

We have also written for a broad audience in terms of familiarity with Buddhist teachings. Some readers are practicing Buddhists who seek to further their understanding of and commitment to the bodhisattva path; other readers may not know what a bodhisattva even is. Some seek to practice the Buddha’s teachings in every aspect of their working life; others may simply be seeking a few tips and tools to help them make it through the workday. We welcome all readers to these pages. We do not insist that you become a bodhisattva, but if you wish to do so, you can find many wonderful books that will take you deeper into this. Our book is a more applied, practical, how-to approach to workaday problems and difficulties—a Buddhist tool kit for the workplace.

The Buddha isn’t here to answer our specific questions for us, but we have done our best to understand his teachings and apply them as we think he would. Some of these teachings are general and philosophical; others are detailed and specific. That’s because some workplace problems are basic or universal, so we can point to basic and universal solutions, while other problems are more complex and require more detailed answers. The wide variety of topics addresses the wide variety of situations we face in our different jobs, different organizations, different times, and different careers.

Finally, it is important that you not accept the Buddha’s teachings just because he was the Buddha. He famously told his followers to think for themselves—to question his teachings and test them against their own experience and understanding, only retaining what worked. If that was true for the Buddha, how much more so is it true for us! Test the Buddha’s teachings and test this book’s. Your path is unique to you, and ultimately only you can decide what advice is useful and what advice isn’t on that path. Please take what you will, and use it as you want.

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