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Creating the Work You Love
By Ernie Spears
How contemplating death may help
Question: How do I create a business or a job that is filled with meaning and joy?
Answer: The Tibetan lama Gyalwa Yangunpa (1213-1258) once said: “Nothing but wisdom and compassion means anything at all. Throw the rest out like trash. It all boils down to dying. Pack light and take off now.”
That’s very beautiful, but how does it help me create a business or a job that is filled with meaning and joy?
It helps when you look at your business or job through the eyes of a death meditation. Most of us are on the deferred-life plan, but don’t know it. Living on a deferred-life plan means that we defer our lives now, for what we think we have to do, so that we can do the things we really want to do in the future.
A sure sign that we are on the deferred-life plan is when we use if/then statements: If I get that raise, then I’ll give to more charities. If I get that promotion, then I’ll spend more time with my family. If I didn’t have to work such long hours, then I would be able to take more care of myself, and do more spiritual practice.
The question I ask you is this: How would you think about your business or your job, if you knew that you were going to die in a year? Your attitude would probably be completely different from the one you have now. This new attitude would inspire you to communicate and behave differently with those around you.
Thinking about the end of your life is not meant to depress you – quite the opposite. If you think about your death, it can empower you with a sense of urgency. An urgency to run our business or approach your job the way you always wanted to. An urgency to act before you have eliminated the things that might cause you to regret, or feel like you’ve wasted your life. An urgency that would teach you to focus on behaviors that would benefit you and those around you.
Death is certain. The time of death is uncertain. At death, only wisdom and compassion can help you. There will be a last time when you sit down to lunch with your co-workers. There will be a last time that you put the final touches on that important project. There will be a last time when you say goodbye to your favorite client. Everything must come to an end, that’s the nature of our reality.
So what do we do about it? We must focus our energies on helping others.
Why? Because, if you knew you were going to die in one year, you would most likely do the things that you always wanted to do. Second, you would get rid of things, relationships, and activities that you knew were not beneficial. Finally, you would focus on helping others, because this is the real cause of a meaningful and joyful life.
We all have dreams. We all have plans. So why aren’t we going after them with fierceness and passion? We would if we thought about our death. Doing this would propel us into action, and catapult us into the life we wanted to live. We wouldn’t get stuck in being too practical or too frightened to try.
Thinking about our death is a very powerful tool, which can lead us to live a more meaningful and joyful life. So think about it often, and think about it in regard to helping others and accomplishing your goals. The bigger you think, the better. Why? Because you’re going to die in a year, remember? Make up your mind that this is going to happen, for one day you’ll be right.
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It is important to understand that true practice is something we do from moment to moment, from day to day. We do whatever we can, with whatever wisdom we have, and dedicate it all to the benefit of others. We just live our life simply, to the best of our ability.
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