Elevating Work to Worship

We like to focus on grand gestures and tend to assign the tag "better" with "bigger." Feeding 1,000,000 starving children in a war-torn country surely must be better than only feeding 100 in a more well off part of the world, so surely we should pursue bigger and better.

Without your neighborhood garbage man, there would be disease from piled up waste. You see it in slums. Your garbage man is, in effect, a doctor who saves lives. Compared to running ATC for a busy international airport, picking up the trash is a relatively simple job but that does not diminish from its critical importance.

It does not matter who you are or what you do for a living, your work can always be elevated like this to the level of worship. Working as a way to worship means you are not working, you are serving. If you are serving, then you are loving, and if you are loving, then you are easily and gleefully moving through your day.

It boils down to your outlook. Is work what you have to do to get from point A to point B in the most efficient way possible? Is it just a machine-like task to be completed as fast as possible? Is it something you do solely to get something you want?

Or, is work a medium which you flow your love and devotion through, and so grace everything and everyone it comes in contact with?

Mahatma Gandhi taught us to act locally and think globally. If you are cleaning your home, can you not zoom out and see your home as a tiny dot on the planet, and so understand that you are not just cleaning your home but also a part of the planet?

If you are making your bed, you can understand that how you do one thing is how you do everything and treat making your bed as practice for doing the ordinary, extraordinarily well.

If you are washing the dishes, can you not meditate on the nature of impermanence and understand that the dishes never end. You wash them. They get clean. Then they get dirty again. The dishes never stay in one state permanently and neither does anything else—you can see the macrocosm in the microcosm.

Signs of Progress

Spirituality, yoga, self-realisation, and all the other ways we describe walking "The Path," has one, overarching and specific goal.

To heal division. That is, to move you from duality to oneness. From seeing the world in relative opposites, to seeing the world (and being) one, undivided whole.

Being so, one of the biggest items on the agenda is the work of shedding your dependencies and attachments. To people, to things, to books, places, teachers, self-concepts, stories, etc. You cannot be whole as long as you believe there is something else with something you do not, yourself possess.

It is natural and necessary to have these dependencies and attachments — as you would not fault a baby for needing its mother — so they are shed slowly, one by one, as night turns to day.

You find, after awhile, The Path turns isolating and lonely. You must learn to rely on yourself and your own instincts, and you might wonder from time-to-time if you are alright, or if you are moving in the right direction.

An athlete has an external coach he can physically observe, who gives constant guidance, support, and can easily inform the athlete how he is progressing by certain measurable indicators. What a gift!

The dhak or bodhisattva or spiritual aspirant, if she is lucky, might have such an external source of support but, as she will come to see, a teacher becomes a hindrance to progress and the two will inevitably part ways at the right time. In the majority of cases, no such coach is there to guide the way for the simple reason of not creating attachment and dependency to an external, temporary source.

You are left to rely on your own intuition, practice, and intense amounts of trial and error to figure things out. The result? You become OK as you are.

Though nobody can tell you how you are fairing and how you are progressing on The Path, there are a few telltale signs.

Brighter, clearer eyes. Wisdom and spiritual attainment shines most notably through the eyes. The eyes become like gemstones.

Loving indifference. You start seeing all as the same and so preferences and neediness diminishes.

High morality. You start observing Nature's laws, which you find impossible to break. You will rescue even a drowning ant from a toilet bowel.

Stillness. Movement becomes slower and much more deliberate.

Understanding of necessity. You can only act according to inner sanction, which will entail the removal of doing anything not in agreement with it.

Transcending story. It becomes harder to categorise and identify yourself. If I am a this, then I am a not that. This understanding is counter to oneness.

Effortlessness. As trying to diminishes, effortlessness increases, which is one of the clearest signs of oneness there is.

Your Problems

Anxiety, depression, relationship, money, self-esteem, body. Most of your problems are going to fit into one or more of these categories.

One strategy is to work on the problem itself. If you are anxious, you can focus on ways to feel at ease. If you lack confidence, you can work on building it. If you are out of shape, you can get fit.

The only problem with this is that our problems are like weeds in a garden. Failing to remove the roots, ensures the weed grows back.

It is good and natural to problem solve. Up to a certain point.

After awhile, you will understand that you need to go to a deeper level to be free of your struggle and suffering once and for all. Isn't that what you want?

Why we like to busy ourselves with problem solving is just that—it keeps us busy and gives a certain sense of accomplishment.

That deeper work — removing the roots — is hard and terrifying, which is another reason we prefer to stay at the surface.

What is that deeper work you might wonder? It is the destruction of the "you" you think is you. It is the total and complete undoing of your conditioned self (the one that has opinions, preferences, and stories about the world), which will entail an energetic death.

We don't know what's on the other side. But something compels us to find out.