The Way of Work

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Phillip
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The Way of Work

#1 Postby Phillip » Tue Oct 19, 2004 2:34 pm

The Way of Work is key for many gnostic practitioners in that most gnostics need to keep a job and deal with the practical concerns of life. Sophian Gnostics believe that one cannot abandon the world in order to evolve beyond it, but that we must "get in to get out". We learn to walk with one foot in the world and one foot out of it. This is by no means a free ticket to unconscious consumerism in the name of Gnosticism, but an examination of how to be in the daily nine to five differently.

There are several ways to approach work that can transform our experience of work and transform our jobs into a spiritual practice. One simple but important key is attitude. How many of us truly enjoy our work? Is a hatred of work really because a job is bad, or is it that we have made it bad by allowing ourselves to develop a negative attitude about it? This is easy to do, especially since complaining about work seems to be the most central theme of workplace socialization. So what can we do?

Perhaps we can smile when such conversations come our way, and try starting a different conversation. Perhaps we can tactfully avoid certain company and gravitate towards company with a more positive attitude. We can practice reminding ourselves while we dress for work of things we're grateful for in the job we have, and contemplate how we might be able to deal with the challenges to generating a more positive attitude about what we do. If we find this impossible, perhaps we can begin to imagine what kind of job we'd rather have and patiently contemplate the steps to getting that better job. But we have to understand that the job isn't what is going to make us happy by itself; we can ruin any good thing quite easily by splattering it with negativity.

This may seem simple and even trivial, but consider: How many hours in a day do we spend at work? How many years does this add up to of our lives? If we do the math, we'll find that the majority of our lives are spent at work. If the majority of our life is spent in negativity, what kind of life are we having? Perhaps this "trivial" practice of generating a positive attitude during our work hours isn't only about having a good attitude about our job, but about generating a happier, more satisfying life!

-gnostic

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The Way of Action

#2 Postby Tau Malachi » Thu Oct 28, 2004 3:39 pm

Greetings Phillip!

I enjoyed reading your post - delightful and practical suggestions.

Another term for the Way of Work is the Way of Action, for at the heart of this Way upon the Path is the realization of the Christ self as the doer in place of the little egoistic self - the awareness that the I-thought is not necessary for action or success. This, of course can be applied to any activity, including one's work life, as you point out.

Can you share a bit about the spiritual foundation of the Way of Work and its development as a method to unfold one's self-realization in Christ?

Blessings & shalom! :)
Tau Malachi
Sophia Fellowship
Ecclesia Pistis Sophia

Phillip
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#3 Postby Phillip » Sun Oct 31, 2004 9:23 pm

Yes, I'm sorry I didn't include it. The spiritual foundation, the point to which the Way of Work, or the Way of Action leads to is the full emersion into the activity and absolute "presentness" where the"I-thought" falls away and it's not us who is the doer, but the Christ-Self or Christ-Prescence that is acting.

I suppose the best way to dissolve negativity in one's work or any activity, and shift attitude is to dissolve the doer who finds the work irritating, and manifest this presence of awareness.

charlie
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#4 Postby charlie » Mon Nov 01, 2004 8:46 am

in some eastern traditions practicioners will do some form of sitting meditation for awhile, then get up and do a walking meditation for a short time between sittings. this moving meditation reminds me of the way of work. it may sound like a corny cliche when someone says 'be one with the stone wall' we're building, but the way of work is exactly this.

immersion is a great word. it really seems to describe how our awareness seems more panoramic when we're focused. rather than being like the unconscious machine of an assembly line factory, the work itself is a conscious organism.

the particular experience I have in mind is when I was working on a stone wall and staircase with rebekah and ira. the way of work is profound just with an individual, but the organic nature seems to come out even moreso when there are a few people who are immersed in the same work together. carrying heavy rocks all over and playing with dirt (type D mortar) may sound like a tedious task, but when approached as a spiritual practice it can be just as enjoyable as any other activity. the panoramic awareness that comes with immersion/focus, simply seeing all as it is, allows us to see the perfect natural flow of things. no stone was rejected, each had its place and that place was easy to find. when three people work together and the christ self is the doer, natural harmonies in the universe seem to become more pronounced. each of us 'knew' what the others were doing, but we didn't really have to give it any 'thought'. like the perfect machine whose perfection comes from being organic and very much alive.

with the christ self as the doer, 'my' opinions of what should go where and what looks good had no place. when there is no self-will involved, the desire to uplift the space manifests wihtout conflict between individuals because we have a singular desire that comes from the very same light within each of us.

I feel like I'm not quite catching the life of the situation that I'm talking about. it may sound like we were just a few automatons and that the work did itself through us... well, we definitely were not automatons. there was communication, and it's not like we just mindlessly carried rocks and just happened to drop them where they 'belonged'. sometimes a rock would be placed and all 3 of us would look at it for a minute. like we know it goes there, but there are some adjustments to be made. sometimes 2 would be looking and talking while the third was enacting. when the stone was set, all of us simply knew it and we smiled and looked for a minute, then on to the next part.

I like this particualr story because I can find some analogies with many of the teachings, specifically the gospel of thomas:


(coptic literal)30- this: the-place which-has-three gods there, in-god they-are. the-place which-has-two or one, I-myself exist with-him.

66- show me the stone which the builders have rejected. that one is the cornerstone.

Phillip
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#5 Postby Phillip » Thu Nov 11, 2004 4:08 pm

The Way of Works

Those who have read the first piece on the Way of Works may already be working on how to develop a positive attitude in work and action. The ability to adjust attitude may seem like a small nothing, however, it’s truly a powerful spiritual practice. Most people allow their attitudes to be a product of external events. The ability to choose and direct our attitude is a key to the ability to respond to a situation rather than react to it. Most people are pretty much the reaction to a series of events in their lives. I might argue that this isn’t being a “person” at all, but the product of someone or some “thing“ else‘s agenda. There are people who can choose their attitude, or be the cause of their own attitude, and spin external circumstances within their minds in order to ensure a positive response. But this isn’t about wearing rose-colored glasses, this is about responding most effectively to a given situation. If the crap hits the fan, it doesn’t do any good to panic or throw a tantrum. We usually make a bigger mess this way. If we really examine the most effective people in panic situations, it’s those who are clear and direct in their responses. This is what being a cause is about, and truly what directing our attitude is about.

But for those who are committed to this already and are in the mood for a more challenging practice, here’s something that might be fun to try. This practice is the art of symbol making. It is important to consider one’s work in the context of spiritual principles, and imagine oneself a part of the cosmic order of reality. Create a metaphor for oneself, and contemplate deeply, what the daily performance of a task might be akin to in a cosmic sense. Are you an agent of the flow of divine grace into the world? Is your workplace a center of cosmic purificaion? Is the workplace a center for the upliftment and integration of forces in the cosmos? When you have developed a more general metaphor, narrow the focus to each event. What does each action signify in the implementatin of this process? From answering the phones, to filling out a “meaningless” form to signing the UPS shipping receipts, create a cosmic meaning for these events, and imagine that one is inside an entire matrix of angelic beings, part of an angelic commerce of energy intelligence in which you are a crucial cog. Add symbolic meaning to every “menial” task, and then, once one’s symbols become clear, become engrossed in your work. You might occasionally remind yourself about each tasks meaning, or add meaning as new tasks arise, but once the meanings are clear, become engrossed and act "as if" it is so. Occasionally remind yourself of this playful metaphor when one’s energy becomes lax or one’s concentration on the task at hand wanes. It makes an interesting game of even the most innane activity. And it's not only a way to make the time pass in a more entertaining way, but acts as a kind of invocation. Have fun and see what happens!

gnostic

Phillip
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#6 Postby Phillip » Wed Feb 23, 2005 12:40 pm

Someone asked me more specifically about a dialogue we were having on the forum in which we discussed making conscious transitions using ritual as a means to shift from one state to another even in mundane affairs. The practice of developing a ritual for any transition throughout the day is mainly what I was contemplating, which is more along the lines of symbolic action that plants a suggestions than any specific ritual in the Sophian Tradition. Essentially, I'm contemplating ritual as symbolic action.

When moving from one part of the day to another, can we do something symbolic like lighting a candle, or cleaning a work station before heading off to lunch, something to tell consciousness that this state is ending, another is beginning, and perhaps to suggest or invoke a more enlightened transition when moving into the next place or state of consciousness? Every event or task that ends is a mini death. Do we then die in these moments consciously, and so invoke the next state consciously? I remember a movie in which a native american shaman said to his disciple, "Let us draw our plow over the bones of death." It seems that each moment we are doing this, action is a "drawing the plow" in a sense. All action is an invocation, by becoming aware and consciously steering our activity to be not only practical but symbolic also on some level when making a transition, even a mundane one, we practice the art of suggestion, and the Way of Work or Action. This is also a simple and quick way to bring spiritual practice into our daily lives. How many transitions to we have in per day? Seven? Eight? Now, attach a very simple series of steps that only takes a few seconds, and wouldn't even look like a spiritual practice to the outside observer that to you represents this transition and what you want to invoke in it, and viola!

Ever had someone get you mad during work hours? How about a suggestion, or a ritual of some kind, like cleaning up your work station to represent transforming that energy after someone makes you mad as a kind of ritual to deal with the anger, rather than just stuffing it? Getting sleepy at work? How about a "waking up" ritual like making coffee, but contemplating what we wish do invoke as we pour the water into the coffee maker and putting the coffee in the filter suggesting exuberance, interest and fun!

So all we have to do is consciously apply symbolic meaning to our daily activities and suddenly daily activity has purpose and meaning, and acts as a spiritual practice. We are now more present in what we do, and more conscious of where we are. Actually, each of our daily activities always DID hold symbolic meaning to our consciousness... it's just WE may not have been the one planting the message!

gnostic

Garbleiel
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Doubt?

#7 Postby Garbleiel » Thu Feb 24, 2005 9:16 am

beautiful advice on integrating spirituality and life...

I have one question: What if you find yourself doubting the meaning / symbolism you add to your life?

In other words, do you observe doubt and try to "do" something about it?

-Gabriel

"You are what you think"

Phillip
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#8 Postby Phillip » Thu Feb 24, 2005 10:18 am

I find it interesting that there are several messages we habitually doubt about ourselves, and several messages we habitually don’t. Let’s write them out to get a clear sense of the kinds of messages we typically tell our selves that we usually have no problem accepting and rarely doubt the validity of:

I'm a bad person…
I’m not good enough…
I don’t have enough…
I’m hungry…
I’m thirsty…
If I had ______________ I’d be happy…
I’m weak…
I can’t…
I’m separate from the divine…

And the programs where we often meet resistance are:

I’m worthy.
I’m good enough.
I’m fulfilled.
I’m full.
I’m happy.
I’m powerful.
I’m at one with the divine.

So, perhaps we can see more clearly here the nature of doubt and what the motivations of doubt may be. My teacher, Tau Malachi suggested, “Doubt your doubt!”

An important point to consider that I only mentioned briefly, is that we are always investing all action with symbolic meaning as we unconsciously think and emote whatever we have been conditioned to think and emote during a particular set of activities. What do you usually think and emote when making coffee? We don’t confront doubt with those thoughts and emotions… Why?

In contemplation of how to respond to doubt, I would recommend reading the story of Jacob, specifically his wrestling with the Angle of Esau, the story of Elija in Kings, specifically his difficulties with Jezebel, and Christ's temptation in the desert.

gnostic

lleyr
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#9 Postby lleyr » Mon Feb 28, 2005 7:55 am

Greetings!
This is a very practical lesson.

This past Saturday my group was discussing how what you expect manifests in your life. We were also discussing how finding awe in everything no matter how mundane it seems is the key to spiritual awakening.

I think the examples you give are good ones to help generate awe and manifest positive thoughts. When you think about it, every minute is a spiritual experience and every act is a miracle.

Blessings, Mark

Phillip
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The Way of Action

#10 Postby Phillip » Fri Mar 04, 2005 9:05 am

A clarification needs to be made in the “Way of Work.” I have unconsciously helped facilitate some grave misperceptions of this Way by limiting it only to the realm of our job or career. In this sense, it might be valuable to think in terms of this way as the Way of Action, for truly, this integral way refers not only to our career, but to driving, walking, riding a bike, playing, sleeping, brushing our teeth, excreting… it is everything we do! Ultimately, the Way of Work or Action is not about the activities themselves, but the state of mind within the activities, and more, the way we perceive those activities and the way we perceive all persons and places, situations and things within those activities.

The way we perceive a thing affects how we behave towards that thing. How we behave towards a thing affects its response. In this sense, here is a practical example of how we re-shape our reality simply by re-shaping our perceptions! The practitioner of the Way of Action or Work behaves as if all objects, places and persons are talismanic. Each is symbolic and the practitioner, knowing this, acts with symbolic intent. What has been given thus far are methods to transform our life in our job, or career. But these simple examples can be creatively extended to all our activities in life.

Each method of the Way of Action or Work is simple, as is the truth of spirit in our experience. Simple does not belittle the power and truth of Spirit in our experience or it’s influence in life - rather the fact that the power of the Holy Spirit is simple yet profound is a commentary on how we unnecessarily complicate our lives and activities. Ultimately, our interaction with this symbolic matrix of reality is a process of surrender, and one teaching the practitioner keeps keenly aware of is that all persons, events and circumstances are a message from our holy soul. Now, how do we read these messages, for surely, we can often read our own self-persecution or self-aggrandizement into these messages, neither of which are the message of our holy soul. The first step in interpreting these symbolic meanings is to relax, notice, and let go. Rather than interpret events from a mental state, or move from vital fears or exultation, we can relax and bring our mind to a spiritual contemplation that may or may not be related to the message. We start with a spiritual metaphor we have created for a situation. For example:

Let’s say we’re doing our daily walk one day, and the metaphor we’ve establish for the activity in order to shift our perception of this simple daily event is that we imagine the path we take along the bike trail represents our spiritual path. We are going to attempt to see all the events and persons as talismanic of our gifts, capacities and obstacles in order to gain some insight into ourselves and our soul. So we walk this route, taking in the scenery, contemplating gently the metaphor as we go. We feel ourselves getting too attached at one point, trying to read into every leaf falling, each dog barking, so we move our mind to another contemplation, perhaps we contemplate Angels, or the Tree of Life a little bit, and relax the metaphor, giving it up to the Holy Spirit. Along the way, we run into a man walking his dog who barks at us, and the owner is quite impatient and mishandles the dog. The event surprises us, and we are brought out of our contemplation of the Tree for a moment. What was our metaphor again? Oh yeah, each event is symbolic of our path and our advantages and obstacles… hey wait! I have difficulty with anger, and my response to my angry outbursts is to get angry at myself! Well, that doesn’t work! The dog and owner situation shows me that! That only feeds the anger! And what a coincidence, the angry dog and angry owner distracted me from a spiritual contemplation, just as my anger does! What a blessing! Blessed are those who the Holy
Spirit has used to show me myself!

You will be amazed at how when we create a spiritual metaphor for any activity and gently allow our mind to relax into it during the activity, offering it up to the Holy Spirit, the spirit will take up circumstances and events of our lives to utilize the very metaphor we chose to bring teachings to us. This teaching demonstrates to us the power of INTENTION and the power of PERCEPTION. Does the Holy Spirit modify circumstances to fit our perceptions? Maybe. Does the Holy Spirit guide us into situations that it knows will fit our peceptions? Maybe. This could be impossible to answer. Perhaps it’s a bit of both. But ultimately, the Way of Work or Action is about working consciously with how we perceive any activity, and thus transforming that activity into a communion with our Holy Soul.

As we engage this process, it is important to think creatively and playfully. Rebekah has a great practice that fits this way perfectly, that is The Toilet Paper Practice. In this practice, one remains mindful to tear off the toilet paper neatly, and leave two strips hanging down for the next person to use. In doing this we are being mindful of our interconnectedness in each moment to all other persons and situations in life. We are behaving less in this as a fractured, disconnected being, and bringing our connectedness to all activities of our lives. We are also being present and mindful in each moment, even the ones typically called “bad” or “unpleasant”.

So the Way of Work or Action is really about integrating all activities in our life to the Christ Presence. It is a simple, yet powerful way that anyone can use. May the Holy Spirit direct us all to the fulfillment of these Ways, and guide us in the actualizaton of our Holy Neshamah.

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The Way of work/Action

#11 Postby Tau Malachi » Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:04 pm

Dear Brother Phillip!

I'm uncertain that we have, has yet, gotten at the Way of Work, for what has been described in this last post is more akin to a contemplation in the Way of Knowledge than to a practice of the Way of Work/Action. The aim of the Way of Work, as I mentioned elsewhere, is service and doing one's duty, but more than this it is the realization that one is not the doer. In the Way of Work all practices deal with the transcendence of being the doer of the action, and thus the realization of Christ or the Life-power as the doer of everything - the result of which negates bondage to karma/sin. In other words, we use action to transcend action, movement to realize repose.

Obviously, at the outset, I am the doer of everything in my mind. Thus in early stages of the Way of Work I can offer up what I'm doing to the Divine Mother, to the Anointed and Mother Spirit, and in all that I do I can serve the Lord. In the midst of the activity I can hold the Divine in mind and engage the in the action fully, letting the action itself be a prayer and offering - merging with the action. In this, perchance, I might glimpse not being the doer, for the I-thought might vanish in the midst of such an action.

From the outset, in everything I do I can serve the Divine, and thus view myself as a servant of the Divine. As I am able more and more, in all things, to be the servant of the Lord, perhaps then I may seek to view myself as an instrument in the hands of God, being moved by the Divine Mother in all that I do - thus, through me, the Mother accomplishes her Will/Desire. From being an instrument, I may recognizes myself as the channel or vehicle of the Mother's Force, and realize myself as a conscious agent of the Divine Mother, my mind as the Mind of Christ, my speech as the Word of Christ and my actions as the Body of Christ - the Divine Mother moving with, in and through me as the Holy Spirit, and perhaps even manifesting as me. In this I am no longer the doer, but the Divine Mother, as Christ and the Holy Spirit in me, is the doer - there is an experience of conscious unification with the Divine in this Way.

The Way of Work could be a simple as the desire to live for the Anointed and Mother Spirit, and to service the Anointed in others. Obviously, I may do this in my job or career, but equally I wish to do this in all things - in all activities.

In terms of doing my duty, I wish to live according to my life's intentionality, and I view my duty in life as this, as God's own will for me and my life. Indeed, and I wish to give my all and do my best in everything that I do, so that my actions might be praise and glorification of the Divine Mother, the Anointed and Holy Spirit, and perhaps serve to uplift others. In every case, the Way of Work is service and self-offering, a holy sacrifice in action through which, perchance, I disappear, so that the Anointed and Mother Spirit might appear as "me."

The Way of Work has elements of the Way of Devotion/Love in it, for in others I serve God, aware of the Light of Christ in everything and everyone - I may serve each person in my life as a person of Christ, which is a teaching on the Way that Master Yeshua gives in the gospels.

Interestingly enough, the awareness of Christ in everyone and eveything is an element of the Way of Knowledge, so in this movement something of Work, Devotion and Knowledge are woven together. Indeed, in the practice of any Way we shall come to the others, for ultimately they are inseparable - though we must understand each in itself, its aim and method.

There are actually Five Ways, for the Way of the Weave or Transformation is something more than the weave of the Four Ways - so the Fifth Way, too, must be understood in itself, as well as understood in conjunction with the others.

Perhaps this extend my note in a previous post on this topic and serves to clarify the Way of Work or Action as it occurs in the teachings.

May the Divine Mother take up our life as her vehicle of the Great Work, and accomplish her Holy Desire with, in and through us, amen.

Blessings & shalom! :)
Tau Malachi

Sophia Fellowship

Ecclesia Pistis Sophia


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