The world’s religions are filled with practical spirituality on how to earn, spend, save, invest and share money. There’s abundant ancient and ever-new wisdom for how to work with less stress and more meaning … how your workplace can be a center of peace and compassion — not fraud, waste or abuse. And more. Much, much more.
Over the past 14 years, it’s been my great pleasure to interview hundreds of people about how their work and their spirituality support each other. The great world religions scholar Huston Smith, graciously granted an interview of some basic tenets in each faith. Individuals have added their own rich insights, providing a marvelous, ever-growing picture of the many ways to put spiritual values to work everyday.
All Faiths Promote Right Livelihood
The term comes from Buddha’s instructions to his disciples not to cause harm through one’s work and to work ethically. Over the past thirty years there have been numerous discussions and writings from people of many faiths on what this might mean. Just a few:
- Finding work that suits talents and to which one feels deeply called. The Christian concept of vocation and the parable of the talents Matthew 25:14-30 are particularly relevant.
- Working with the same integrity and other values in the workplace that you honor in your place of worship. The Muslim concept of being the same person in the marketplace as you are in the mosque is a marvelous model.
- Engaging fully with the task at hand without forcing your will or ego on it. The Taoist concepts of Yin and Yang and the Hindu concept of surrendering the outcome of your work to God are wise guides.
- Weaving time for reflection and rest into times of work. The Jewish Sabbath and Ecclesiastes 3:1-15 (a time for everything in its season) are prime examples.
- Working in a way that respects the needs of others, including the earth and those not yet born. Prime examples are the environmental movements and the wisdom of native peoples, such as the Iroquois commandment to consider the impact of one’s actions to the seventh generation.
All Faiths Promote Paths to Wisdom
Whether you call it meditation, prayer, reflection or just a walk to clear your head, all faiths suggest that you get out of your ordinary mind, out of the limited view of your ego, and into a more timeless, universal way of seeing the world.
Because this blog often covers these topics, we won’t focus on them today. Except to say, whatever your faith, you already know some practices for slowing down, breathing, and opening up to guidance.
Indeed, one of the most spiritual persons I know is a lawyer who is an avowed atheist. He’s famously kind, compassionate, and ethical, but he doesn’t frame his thoughts about life and meaning in theological terms. He won’t use words like meditation or prayer, but obviously he gets into a state of deep reflection when he listens to country music and gets out of his over-worked left brain, into his heart.
I’d rather live in a world with one man who finds guidance without spiritual words than with than dozens who speak the spiritual words and don’t walk the spiritual walk — especially those who grow rich by promising spiritual “miracles” the easy way.
For More on the Wisdom of All Faiths for Work and Money, Come Back for Part II.
As a writer, long-time researcher and missionary for integrating spirituality, work and money, I could go on. And on. But I need to earn my living, and people don’t read much at one sitting any more. Therefore, we’ll take a break here.
Still to be explored in Part II (and maybe more parts as I really get going):
- All Faiths Promote Service
- All Faiths Promote Wise Use of Money
- All Faiths Promote Integrity
- All Faiths Promote Peace and Compassion
For a great collection of resources on right livelihood, see this article from Yes! Magazine.
How does the Wisdom of the World’s religions Enhance Your Relationship to Work and Money?
What do you already do to keep spirit alive at work? In your relationship to money?
What wisdom does your faith have for work and money?
What can you learn from other faiths?
As always, please share your thoughts and question. Guest blogger ideas are welcome!
Pat McHenry Sullivan