Let’s re-evaluate the so-called “obstacles” in our path, without which there would be no journey worth taking.
Some people on the spiritual path are compelled to change their lives by finding “more meaningful work in the world,” or cashing out their retirement account to open an orphanage in Africa. Those are noble causes, don’t get me wrong, but fulfillment comes from within, not from anything outside of us, and we must learn to walk before we can run. What I mean is, we can find a sense of purpose in our lives right where we are. Nobility does not come from a specific job description, we bring it into our work when we do it with integrity.
So whether you’re washing dishes in the back of a restaurant or performing brain surgery every day, if you do it with integrity, it can be extremely fulfilling and altruistic. If you do it without, then even the most honorable position loses its merit.
Dare I say it’s the people behind-the-scenes, the unsung heroes, invisible contributors, anonymous donors, and silent do-gooders, who inspire me more than those in the headlines? Whatever you do in the world, you are making a difference we all appreciate even if we never tell you so (that’s a failure on our part). We are grateful for construction workers, customer service around the clock, all of you teachers, bank tellers, flight attendants, custodians, ministers, strippers, programmers, bookkeepers, servers, mechanics, grocery store clerks, retail workers, miners, farmers, pilots, cashiers, plumbers, bus drivers, house cleaners, accountants, engineers, nurses, search-and-rescue personnel, lawyers, politicians, chefs, midwives, secretaries, actors, judges, artists, librarians, stay-at-home parents, and yes, Buddhists priests and surgeons too.
We all serve a purpose in one way or another. And even though some of us have lost our sense of fulfillment, we can get it back if we do what we do with a renewed awareness of our interconnectedness and the intention to heal.
I’ve heard it said that our “image” (with which we are so concerned) has to do with what people think of us, but integrity is who we really are. So let’s worry less about our “image” in some made-up social hierarchy of value, and focus more on the value we each add to society in our own way. It’s not a competition.
Some people are just starting out on their spiritual journey, and others have been up-and-down these trails for many years. Nobody has ever reached a point where the road ends because it’s not a journey to a destination, we evolve to a transformation. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been on the path or from which direction you came, we are all kindred spirits.