The Yun Hwa Sangha Blog

Buddhist work-life balance

by | Nov 1, 2022 | Practice, Well-being

Hello, everyone out there! I have been doing Buddhist practice for quite a long time. That means I meditate, do Buddhist physical exercises and read Buddhist teachings.

Our practice, if you can do it fully, is quite extensive. In the morning we do 108 bows, then stretching and strengthening exercises, which we call Ki Song. After that, we meditate for up to 30 minutes. And that’s just the morning practice.  I remember well having the feeling again and again of not practicing enough and not being versed enough in our Buddhist practice. 

Together with my husband, I run a catering business that takes up a lot of time. Our day starts in the early morning hours from 5:30 am and ends late at night.

In the day-to-day catering business, there are many tasks that go beyond cooking and hosting: like guests who, at a wedding at 5:00 in the morning, can’t call a cab themselves. 

Or, I can remember a situation where we were so tired on the way home from a long night of events, with 2 trucks, that we called each other on our cell phones, so we wouldn’t fall asleep during the drive home and had Purple Rain by Prince turned up on the radio.

In addition, there is the cooking for private airline companies, whose customers have so many things on their wish list, from Wiener Schnitzel to wild berry vitamin smoothies and cupcakes with unicorns, to sandwiches with prince decor.

Often after a long day, extreme tiredness sets in, and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. After a day of work in our company, it was frequently very difficult for me to still think about the Buddhist practice. 

I had a guilty conscience – because I could not travel to many beautiful Buddhist seminars that take place mainly on weekends. I also asked myself: what am I actually doing for others?

For a long time, I wasn’t sure if I was practicing enough, but one day, via reading the Reminders (teaching texts of our Buddhist master Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim), I noticed this wonderful and extremely valuable quote. 

8444 July 23, 2015, Lotus Buddhist Monastery. “If one’s duty or work is to truly care for and serve all others, and if that is what everyone needs and wants, then it is important to remove all personal conditions and move in that direction.”

” Work is practice” and “all of life is practice”.

That means I also practice in my profession, by doing my job. I practice being in the “here and now”- like during meditation. With my love for cooking and the energy I put into it, I make both the host and the guests happy. Social Buddhism also involves bringing joy to others.

I was really relieved to see my work in the catering business as a great, valuable part of the practice.

I fully admitted to myself that my job does not leave too much time for other things and that is ok.

Because of my new perspective, many things have changed – I no longer feel like I have to be in a different place to make progress in spiritual practice. I can do it here and now.

I became deeply aware that I am practicing Social Buddhism, which takes place precisely in our everyday life, and I am allowed to accept this challenge. It’s a task that is meant for me.

This new relaxed approach has had a positive effect on myself and also on my staff. They experienced me more joyfully while cooking and at work in general. Now we all work with a more relaxed mindset and this is a lot more fun. Sometimes this takes more time, but we have the right mindset. 

Every challenge to my husband and me is also a challenge to our staff, and I can say that working as a team is so much more enjoyable now. 

When it comes down to it, no one looks at the clock. Because in the end, work is also practice. For me, somehow everyone out there is now practicing in your jobs “FUNNY ” 😊

About the author:

Dina Maier – Chung Poep is Abbot of the Stuttgart Yun Hwa Dharma Sah and a Disciple of Ji Kwang Dae Poep Sa Nim.

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