Jack Kornfield – Heart Wisdom – Ep. 163 – Practice in Daily Life: Right Livelihood

Jack Kornfield delves into Right Livelihood, one of the key practices on the Eightfold Path that can help us find joy in our occupation.

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What is Right Livelihood?

We kick off this podcast by defining the concept of Right Livelihood. Jack Kornfield says that life is not about how much love you get, but by how much love you give. Like all of the aspects of the Eightfold Path, Right Livelihood is meant to bring us happiness and to help us become awakened. There are five aspects of Right Livelihood: non-harming, appropriate happiness, growth and awareness, simplicity, and service.

For another perspective on Right Livelihood check out this interview with David Nichtern on The Awakened Heart Blog
The American Myth of Perfection // Job Satisfaction (8:34)

Jack describes the great American myth of ‘the perfect job’. Much like there is no ‘perfect relationship’, there is not one form of livelihood that will be flawless. These myths exist to keep us always striving for more, perpetually unsatisfied. Do not seek perfection, but do not be afraid to change careers if you are truly unhappy. When we follow the five aspects of Right Livelihood, we can find joy in our career. Jack says that having the feeling of contribution is one of the most important parts of the spiritual path and general life satisfaction. What we produce from work can house our families, help society, and be debt-free.

“Find something, and really give yourself to it. That is a happiness.” – Jack Kornfield

Monasteries and Assembly Lines // Staying Mindful at Work (17:38)

Have you ever practiced mindfulness while doing a chore such as the dishes or while driving? We can use our meditative awareness to make the work that we do a meditation rather than staying on autopilot. When we are able to fuse zen into our occupation by staying mindful of each movement we make in our task, it makes the work much more enjoyable. Jack says that the only real difference between walking back and forth at the monastery and putting screws into gauges is that in jobs we resent being there and are waiting for a paycheck.

“I’ve often thought, ‘Gee, I could be on an assembly line somewhere and be enlightened because it looks like the same thing if I did it right.'” – Jack Kornfield

To hear more about fulfilling your purpose in life from the perspective of Hindusim tune into Ep. 32 of Living with Reality: Planet’s Prana, & Purpose w/ Paula Crossfield
Inaction, Karma Yoga, and Aspirations (33:38)

We read an excerpt from the Bhagavad Gita which says that when one abstains from action, nothing is gained and there is no rest. We all have our own unique path to enlightenment. Whether we are a janitor, cook, therapist, dancer, or teacher, we all have the capability to reach enlightenment. What we need to watch out for is inaction, which only gets us lost inside the movement of life. Stick around for a guided meditation imagining the workplace at the close of this episode.

Photo via Vasin Lee