The fifth mindfulness training: "Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, I am determined not to take as the aim of my life fame, profit, wealth or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. I am committed to living simply and sharing my time, energy and material resources with those in real need."
~ Venerable Thich Nhat Hahn
How often do I lose myself?
Some time back, due to a breakdown in the relationship with my bosses, I was passed over for the promotion. Since then I have learnt to "play nice" and the situation with my superiors have improved.
I was promoted last week; the promotion is an indication of how things can change for the better if we make a sustained attempt toward positive changes.
However, for the past week I have been wondering what this promotion really means to me.
I see the promotion as a tangible acknowledgement of my hardwork and abilities, as such, it is important to me to have my superiors recognise my effort. But I am often reminded of how hardwork often goes unappreciated. It is more important to work hard, and work towards the positive for its own sake.
I ask myself: I am the sort of person that co-workers feel comfort approaching for help? Have I been generous with my time and expertise with my co-workers? And the answer is: not all the time. So I ask myself: then what does it matter, if they promote you or not?
I came to the teachings of Thay Thich Nhat Hahn during a period of emotional upheaval. I was desperate for anything that might be helpful, and I scoffed at what I read initially. But gradually the greater wisdom took root, and he has been an immense spiritual influence in my life since. I came across the quote on the Fifth Mindfulness Training last week, while musing over the promotion. It puts things in perspective for me, and the promotion now seems almost anti-climatic.
But not to the colleagues in my department of course. I was promoted with another colleague in the department. To celebrate our joint promotions, we will be buying dinner. The date has been set for 23rd November.
"What is it for?" my Director asked us, when we invited him to dinner. He checked his organiser. "It’s Thanksgiving. The 23rd is Thanksgiving."
"We’re giving thanks," I quipped. I realised later I wasn’t joking.
I am often frustrated and bitter at the things that failed to come my way. But life is often so much better when I can learn to give thanks for the little things that I actually have.
I know this, and yet it is still a lesson I have to re-learn ever so often.
How often do I lose myself in the pursuit of things that do not matter?