The need is very great, everywhere in the world… for a true spiritual awareness to pervade and motivate peoples’ lives. No amount of administrative procedure or adherence to rules can take the place of this soul-characteristic, this spirituality which is the essence of Man.
(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual, 25 April 1945, p.12)
Human beings are essentially spiritual, and our lives are animated by Divine love. We need to work as an expression of our souls and to establish a sense of purpose. If we don’t learn, grow, develop or contribute to building something bigger and better than ourselves, our souls are at first dissatisfied, then distressed.
All Work and All Play
It is the nature of children to learn as they grow, even if they have been in difficult situations. One of the secrets to the spirit of work is to play, which children do naturally. Children playing have serious intent, yet they delight in their discoveries. They observe, experience and postulate theories, then create scenarios with their friends to test possibilities. They invest all their energy into the task at hand and will not stand to be pulled away from it. They relentlessly seek their answers in creative ways and are not frustrated by the long pursuit.
Learning from The Students
Children can teach us much about the nature of the soul and how to work more effectively. Work that does not encourage the natural expression and development of the soul is not sustainable because it is against our nature. However, unlike children developing through their ‘work’, adults don’t work from within the realities of the soul. Unlike young children who cannot be discouraged from soul-inspired learning and action in their work, adults become trapped in a cycle of purposelessness that ultimately erodes our potential.
Evaluating all our attitudes and behaviours as either diminishing or enhancing the nature of our souls can help us align with the spirit of work. The essential probing question is: How do we know if work is soul-sustaining or soul-diminishing? Soul-sustaining activity brings joy, love, creativity and growth, making us self and others-aware. Soul diminishing activity fosters anger, hatred, destruction and isolation, making us self-absorbed.
- Do I feel like making a point of someone else’s fault? Soul-diminishing.
- Can I think of a way to share the irritation I feel towards that person in a way that is both honest and kind? Soul-sustaining.
- Do I snap at others because I am tired? Soul-diminishing.
- Do I take a deep breath and let others know I feel tired and might not be at my best? Soul-sustaining.
- Do I share in the joy of someone’s promotion? Soul-sustaining.
- Do I feel bitter and jealous of someone’s promotion? Soul-diminishing.
- Do I apologize when I make a mistake? Soul-sustaining.
- Do I blame others for my mistakes? Soul-diminishing.
Make an inventory of your thoughts, actions and behaviours at the end of each day, and note if they were soul-sustaining or soul-diminishing. Celebrate the former and understand how to infuse the latter with spirit.
This is the first part of a trilogy of podcasts taken from the beginning of a book I’m writing called ‘The Spirit of Work’. This book based within knowledge combined from spiritual practice, world religions and great thinkers and offers a framework to reimagine work from the context of humans as spiritual beings taking spiritual stewardship of the planet.
I look forward to your responses and feedback – I’d like to know if this material helped you, or if you would like to suggest some changes. You can comment on this or any of my podcast episodes in our WorkandCulture twitter account or by sending an email to email@example.com. You can also leave a voice message in my Skype account AMGEDUC. Or, if these musings inspire you to work with me, I would be most interested in hearing from you. We can chat and see what might be beneficial to both of us!