Posts Tagged ‘Zen at Work (1996)’

Emerson: “The best efforts of a fine person are felt after we have left their presence.”

zen-at-work-bookcoverLes Kaye: My real motive was to create a more collaborative relationship. In other words, I saw that we had not so much an information problem as a “boundary” problem.  I wanted us to invite ourselves into our customer’s circle, and them into ours (page 30).[1]

For Emerson it is imperative to understand how your actions direct a person’s thoughts, ideas, and feelings of you once you have “left their presence.” While you are in their presence they may be polite and even complementary, but how do they really feel after you leave? For Les Kaye as a Buddhist teacher and in his work at IBM he was highly interested in how people felt after their encounter with him and his team because it would determine whether they were customers now and in the future or not.

Les Kaye always encouraged his team to put in the best effort, to understand the customer’s requirements, to go beyond sending a survey or questionnaire.  He encouraged face-to-face dialog that demonstrated to the customer real relationship building and a desire to put the customer first.

In our lives we need to understand that everyone we meet is our customer too!  Our family members, the grocery clerk, our co-workers, and everyone we meet throughout the day.  Are they buying what we’re selling?  What are you selling? Friendship, love, compassion, and our dedication to the principles of ethics and Buddhism, and more. Or are you selling fear, hate, bigotry, anger, ignorance, and small mindedness?

Where are you putting your so called “best efforts?”  Which side of the coin are you working from—the one of peace, love, and compassion, or fear, hate, and small-mindedness?  It may be minutes, hours, or days after you have put your “best efforts” into the situation or conversation that the feeling Emerson describes is acgold-face-buddha-with-three-pure-precepts-2tually realized by the person.

That’s okay, because we don’t do it for the outcome we simply do it because it is the right thing to do.   As our Three Pure Precepts remind us: A disciple of the Buddha vows to not create evil, to practice good, and to actualize good for others.

What are people feeling after you leave their presence?  Have you really put in your best effort? It is up to you whether you help to make their day great or NOT. If you follow the Three Pure Precepts their encounter with you will be great and you just might have made their day!  Let me know how it goes!

[1} Odelia, F. Inspiration & Wisdom from the pen of Ralph Waldo Emerson http://www.odeliafloris.com

[2] Kaye, L. (1996) Zen at Work, A Zen Teacher’s 30-Year Journey in Corporate America. NY,NY: Three Rivers Press

[3}, Photo Mitch Doshin Cantor, Listening With the Eye



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Chill out I said to my 92-year-old mother with Alzheimer’s as she was pacing around the house for about one hour saying “let’s get out of here.”   Needless-to-say, we had just come home from running errands, volunteering at her church with the clean-up committee, grocery shopping, and visiting the library.  I thought about her and 99.9% of the rest of us running away from silence, quiet, peace, sitting and simply enjoying doing nothing!

When did we unlearn the art of leisure?  If we watch some old black-and-white movies we often see people in lawn chairs reading, or writing a note to a long lost friend, or sharing a glass of lemonade with a family member or neighbor.  We may even see them taking a leisurely stroll on the shore, through the woods, or across a large green expanse with wild flowers strewn about.

My best friend Pat gave me a wonderful little book by David Baird, A Thousand Paths to enlightenment (2000), and in it he wrote, “There is no greater curse than the lack of contentment.”  What does contentment mean to you?  If you were asked to define it what would you say?  If you were asked to give an example out of your life what would it be?  How long would it take you to remember it?  How long ago was it?  Mine was just last night.

As I waited to pick up a friend from his new job I gave myself time to listen to a beautiful CD that I checked out from the library entitled “Holy Harmony” by Jonathan Goldman.  When I read the back of the case it said it was specifically written for deep relaxation and healing.  After a busy day of work and errands and helping my mom and my friend I sure could use some relaxation.   And boy did I get it!  The CD is one track that lasts 72 minutes.

I turned down the lights, propped myself up on my bed with a bundle of lovely pillows, put the ear buds in and spent the next 72 minutes in another world.  Only a few times did any thoughts enter my mind beyond the thought of how relaxed I was, or how beautiful the chant was. I repeated the words a few times to embed them in my memory, creating new synapses that I could recall when I needed the relaxation and did not have access to the CD.

How fantastic the mind is when we just let it relax for a few minutes.  Les Kaye in his insightful book, Zen at Work (1996), writes, “Our minds move constantly: we cannot stop them.  If we try to stop our minds, we do not understand their nature.  Zen practice is to stay aware of our moving minds to recognize their movement but not be distracted by it.  Not being distracted by our moving minds is how we quiet them.  So there is no need to try to stop our minds.  We just try not to be caught by their movement.  Then we can see how things really are (page 129).”

Whether you practice Zen or any other contemplative practice you can still learn how to “chill-out.” I read a book many years ago that asked the reader to spend 24 hours in bed when they were NOT sick—just to see if they could do it.  The author said that most people cannot do it!  We have this Puritan work ethic drilled in us that tells us that unless we are “doing” we are “nothing” or “no one.”  Yet, all the great thinkers, philosophers, and spiritual leaders throughout time took many hours and even many years just sitting,  or meditating,  or praying, or walking, or hiking around their countries contemplating the beauty of their mind and spirit.

Let’s take the time this year to find as many places and ways as possible to simply “chill out.”  Discover for yourself what that word means, what it looks like, what it feels like, and respect and love yourself enough to go forward with your chill-out time!  If you don’t you just may end up dead in mind, body, or spirit from the stress of non-chilling!  Goodness gracious that would not be an adventure you would want to embark upon for 2013—would it now?!

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