It’s Not Just You, No Workplace Is Problem-Free

Whether you’re at your dream job or working to pay the bills, no workplace is problem-free. Discover how Buddhists respond to issues at work.

The majority of our time is spent at work and if the work culture is tough, then what should we do?

Of course, there’s the option of quitting, which over the years has become synonymous with self-care (for those who can afford it as The Cut recently put it). But does that address the reality that no workplace is problem-free? This is not to say that if you’re experiencing harassment or an abusive workplace that you just need to tough it out.

Practicing Buddhism exists to solve the problems that we go through every day, big or small. The question Buddhists ask themselves is: Am I in control of my situation or is it controlling me?

Photo by Kasra Assadian / Unsplash

We can decide how we show up

The Buddhist philosopher Daisaku Ikeda shares the following in response to a young person struggling at work:

When you strive to become the best person in your workplace and win the trust of your employer and fellow employees, while at the same time making an earnest effort to practice Buddhism, you’ll grow as a person.

The New Human Revolution, vol. 22, pp. 101–04

Practically speaking, winning at work starts with our practice of chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo in the morning.

For Buddhists, chanting is the source of manifesting the ability to decide how we’re going to show up for work that day. When we chant regularly, gradually the confidence to move in the direction of what we really want becomes clear, whether we stay at the job or leave.

For Buddhists, chanting is the source of manifesting the ability to decide how we’re going to show up for work that day.

How to improve our workplace community

A workplace is a community all on its own. That being said, it’s like a training ground for learning how to create harmonious relationships with co-workers and bosses based on wisdom from Buddhist practice.

Founding Soka Gakkai President Tsunesaburo Makiguchi described three types of people in this world:

Those you want to have around, those whose presence or absence doesn’t make a difference and those whose presence causes problems.

Discussions on Youth, p. 81

When we apply the wisdom we get from Buddhist practice at work, we can improve the workplace community by becoming an expert at bringing people together.

How do we do this? The 13th-century Buddhist reformer Nichiren Daishonin encourages two brothers experiencing serious family problems “to become the master of your mind rather than let your mind master you” (“Letter to the Brothers,” WND-1, 502).

Ikeda shares that these words confirm the path of Buddhists:

To be “the master of your mind” means to make the principles of Buddhism our guide, and we achieve this through study. Study is also a measure to indicate whether our behavior and way of life as Buddhist practitioners is correct or not. It is a mirror that shows us who we are.

The New Human Revolution, vol. 24, p. 140

This is not easy. The society we live in is filled with endless contradictions and can be unbearably harsh sometimes, but we practice so we don’t allow those contradictions to get the better of us as we move toward our dreams.

The important thing is that we become people who are trusted and reliable. This becomes an expression of the power of Buddhism and our lives. So, whether we decide to leave or stay, we know that it’s up to us what kind of workplace culture we want to see.

At the end of the day, Buddhism is about being in the driver’s seat of life, not staring out the window and watching it pass by. With chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, not only can we design the career we want to have but we also take full responsibility to make it happen.

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