Our outer job, our inner job, our real job

Every moment of every day we engage in action.  Since we currently have a precious human life, our goal should be to engage in the most karmically beneficial actions we can.  The highest actions we can engage in are those which function to transform ourselves into the gateway through which all beings can attain enlightenment (transform our root mind into a Buddha’s pure land).

Since we live in a modern world, we must work.  Even if we don’t have a formal job, we all ‘work’ in the world in some form or another.  This work is our outer job.  The more we help others, the more virtuous our outer job is.  We can make our outer job, even the most mundane of outer jobs, into a virtuous job by viewing our work through the lens of how what we do helps others.  Our outer job also enables us to maintain the material conditions of our practice and they enable us to create good conditions for others (such as providing for our family).  

There is no contradiction between pursuing a normal career and dedicating 100% of one’s life to the practice of Dharma.  If we are to gain the realizations the people of this modern world need, then we must externally adopt lives similar to theirs – and that means working, having a family, etc.  Learning how to live their lives as the spiritual path will give us the wisdom we need to be able to help the people in this world find meaning and happiness in their lives.  Our inner job is to do precisely this.

Each outer situation will induce within us a different set of delusions – sometimes attachment, sometimes anger or frustration, sometimes despondency, sometimes jealousy, etc.  Our inner job is to learn how to relate to each one of these outer situations in the least deluded and the most wise/virtuous way possible. 

If we rely completely upon the Dharma Protector, he will arrange things so that every moment of our lives is emanated by him for our practice.  Through relying upon him, everything that happens to us, the good and the bad, is exactly what we need to take the next step in our spiritual journey.  We can view what happens to us as the spiritual exercises or homework that our personal Dharma trainer gives us so that we can advance to the next level of our spiritual training. 

The sole objective of the Protector is to transform us into the Buddha we need to become.  He knows the beings with whom we have the karma to lead them to enlightenment.  He knows what wisdom they will need on their spiritual journey.  Knowing this, he gives us now the problems and life experiences that they will have in the future so that we can gain now the wisdom realizations we need to later be able to explain to them how to transform their lives into the path.  Viewed in this way, we realize how every life event is not only exactly what we need for our own training, but it is also perfect for giving us the ability to help others in similar situations in the future.  This recognition alone gives great meaning and purpose to every moment of our life.  Living our life in this way is our inner job.

Our real job, then, as Modern Kadampas is to unite our outer and inner job so that every moment and every action, both outer and inner, takes us in a singular direction towards our final spiritual goal – the enlightenment of all.  The method by which we can unite completely these two goals is externally we continually strive to help as many people as our karma allows and internally we continually strive to respond to the events of our life with as much wisdom and virtue as our realizations allow.  In short, as the Old Kadampas would say, we “harm our delusions as much as possible and help others as much as possible.” 

By continuing to ambitiously pursue both our outer and inner careers in this way they will eventually unite into one.  When we experience our life in this way, we will have the immense satisfaction which comes from fulfilling our life’s purpose and not wasting a single moment along the way.

2 thoughts on “Our outer job, our inner job, our real job

  1. The paragraph that begins “The sole object of a protector…” is very powerful. I appreciate that in many of your articles you consistently reference Pure Land and Dorje Shugden in a variety of ways. These analogies are very useful and clarify many ideas and understandings that previously were abstractions for me.

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