Cherish the present and value your own life

- through Francois Leclercq

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Fri. Pomnyun Sunim. Image courtesy of Jungto Company

The Korean master Seon (Zen), the venerable Pomnyun Sunim (Buddhist monk) wears many hats: Buddhist monk, teacher, author, environmentalist, and social activist, to name a few. As a highly respected Dharma teacher and tireless socially engaged activist in his native South Korea, Ven. Pomnyun Sunim has founded numerous Dharma-based organizations, initiatives and projects that are active around the world. Among them, the Jungto Society, a volunteer community based on Buddhist teachings and expressing equality, simplicity of life and sustainability, is dedicated to solving modern social problems that lead to suffering, including the degradation of environment, poverty and conflict.

This column, shared by Jungto Society, features a series of highlights from Ven. Pomnyun Sunim's writings, teachings, public lectures, and regular live-streamed Dharma Q&A sessions are accessible worldwide.

The next teaching was given in San Diego on September 10. This article is the 10th in a special series drawn from Ven. Pomnyun Sunim's Dharma Tour in Europe and North America, her first overseas tour since the pandemic. Entitled “Informal conversation with Ven. Pomnyun Sunim: Come talk about life, wisdom and happiness”, the Dharma tour took place from September 1 to 22, 2023, in 21 cities: six in Europe and 15 in North America.*

Q: I have lived in the United States for about five years now. At first, I had difficulty finding a job, but after a lot of effort, I finally found a job. Through my hard work and dedication, I gained recognition and today became a manager. However, when working as a manager, managing employees is very difficult. Some of my team members are just passing the time, while others work very hard. As I look at the different employees, I see all kinds of emotions rising and falling within me. I feel especially angry when I see people who are simply wasting time or passing their work off to others. There are times when I have to cover them. On the other hand, when I see young and highly qualified colleagues, I can't help but feel anxious, afraid of losing my position. I experience mood swings. I know I still have a lot to learn, but with what mindset can I consolidate my position?

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: Is this a company you founded?

Q: No.

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: Is this someone else's business?

Q: Yes.

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: Are you an employee?

Q: Yes, that'it's true.

Image courtesy of Jungto Company
Image courtesy of Jungto Company

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: Then only work as much as your salary. (Audience applauds) What's so difficult about that?

Q: I think it's because I'm greedy and I want to do well.

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: It's not because you're greedy, but because you subconsciously believe that the business is yours. When employees fail to perform their duties, it is the responsibility of the president or management to fix the problem. There is no reason for the asker, who is just a manager, to feel bad about this. While it may seem tedious to do more work, how about adding a little more? Since you are a manager, you must assume this responsibility. The position of manager was created to take responsibility when someone is not working. If you don't want to take on that responsibility, you can just go down and do what you're given.

And it's true that having someone smarter below you could be seen as a threat to your position. However, there is nothing you can do. What should you do if the colleague is smarter than you? In addition, the colleague cannot hide his skills in order to protect your position. (audience laughter)

And when there are employees who slack off, it may require you to do a little more work, but having such people under your supervision allows you to maintain your position as a manager. At least they don't pose a threat to your position as manager.

Q: Yes, that'it's true.

Image courtesy of Jungto Company
Image courtesy of Jungto Company

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: So there are positive aspects to having a lazy coworker. That's why you have nothing to fear. You just have a little misconception. For example, you really admire Pomnyun Sunim, so when some people criticize Sunim, you feel like they are criticizing you and you get angry and excited. Your mindset is somewhat similar to this. When you have an important position in a company, you feel like you own the company, and that's why you feel angry when people don't work. But it's not necessary. This doesn't mean you should just let employees slack off. You must focus on doing your job faithfully. However, it is the responsibility of the company's supervisors to check whether their employees are performing their duties properly and to take action if necessary.

If you are given the position and personal authority to control and supervise workers, it becomes your job because the company pays you a salary to do this work. It's not because you don't like the person, but simply because you need to report the facts accurately. Even if you have concerns like, “Won’t this be disadvantageous to this person?” if he didn't do the work, you should still report it honestly. If you don't feel inclined to complete this task, you can suggest: "I don't like to evaluate others. I'm just going to focus on my own work. If you don't like seeing people not doing their job, you can say, "I can't be a manager because I don't like seeing people not doing their job" and resign from the manager. position.

If you receive a salary that exceeds the value of your work, it becomes a debt. Even if there is no debt on paper, it becomes debt in your life. Conversely, if you work more than your salary, you will be blessed. Think about it for a moment: do all employees want to receive more than they work for? Or do they want to receive less?

Q: They want to receive more.

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: Do all employers want to pay their employees a little less? Or do they want to pay them more?

Q: They want to pay less.

Image courtesy of Jungto Company
Image courtesy of Jungto Company

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: This is human psychology. It's understandable. People who sell something usually want to get a little more, and people who buy something feel good when they buy it for less than the market price, thinking, "I bought it for a little less." Dear ". Those who understand this aspect of human psychology tend to grant their employees slightly higher salaries than initially expected. From the employees' point of view, this is an important benefit, as they are less likely to leave the company. So who can have a dominant position? The employer can. However, if it pays low wages, employees will continue to be interested in other places, and even mild criticism may lead them to think, "There are other places that pay this much" and they might quit . This is why granting employees slightly higher salaries can make them more loyal to the company and more attentive to the employer's expectations.

On the other hand, what about from the employees' point of view? To be in a dominant position, he would have to receive a slightly lower salary. If he threatens to resign in response to even a small criticism from his employer, the employer will be surprised and will arrest his employee. Just because someone is a worker does not mean they are always in a submissive position. Just because someone is the employer doesn't mean they always have a dominant position. You are in bondage because you are trying to get a big salary. Even workers can occupy a dominant position if they receive low wages. For example, you can say after lunch: “I will leave work early today to attend a Dharma lecture by Ven. Pomnyun Sunim”, without the boss being able to object. If the boss handles the situation poorly and the worker leaves, it can lead to significant problems. This is why a certain flexibility is demonstrated in such cases.

Understanding these principles can lead to a wiser lifestyle. To sell something quickly, you need a price slightly below market value. If you want to sell at a higher price, you have to wait longer because no one will buy it at a high price. However, in this world, sometimes there are people in a hurry. You have to wait for such a person to appear. Because these principles work this way, there is nothing difficult about it. However, because we ignore this principle, we suffer, we become anxious, and we blame others. If you understand these principles, you can simply adjust your life accordingly.

If you enter a good company with insufficient skills, you will always have to be careful. On the other hand, if you enter a company slightly below your skill level, you can live with a little more confidence because you can easily find such a job with your skills. If the employer says something and you threaten to quit, they will try to retain you.

The same goes for making friends. When you want to have a large social circle, you have to spend money on food or coffee. People want to have a large social circle but are reluctant to spend money, and this is what we call "greed." Greed refers to something contradictory. When we say abandon greed, it does not mean abandoning the desire to do something, but means abandoning conflicting desires.

Q: Thank you.

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: Work as much as your salary.

The speaker laughed heartily and the audience applauded warmly.

Image courtesy of Jungto Company
Image courtesy of Jungto Company

Fri. Pomnyun Sunim: Just like the conversation with me today, your life should be both fun and beneficial. It shouldn’t be all about fun or all about being beneficial. Working allows you to earn money, which is beneficial, but it can lack pleasure. On the other hand, gambling can be fun, but if you keep spending money, it may not be beneficial. Either way, it’s a life half lived.

How can we have a pleasant and rewarding professional life? Treat your work like play. Try to have fun while working. When you run a store, think of it as a form of entertainment. When customers come, have fun talking to them about various issues. Experiment with different approaches, such as: "When I say this, the products sell well, but when I say this, they don't sell." » Analyzing this way can make selling a single item enjoyable. Doing rewarding work for its own sake will be good now and later. Having fun, earning money and eating a pheasant and its eggs is a wise life.

We tend to listen with too much reverence to the words of Jesus or the Buddha, but that is not necessary. When I read the Bible or Buddhist scriptures and interpret their content, it all boils down to one thing: in order to live a life that is good for you and me, enjoyable and meaningful, do not seek to be loved, but to love. ! Don't try to be understood, understand!

Image courtesy of Jungto Company

However, it seems that some of you are misinterpreting this and asking, "Why should I sacrifice myself for others?" » So you grit your teeth and endure to get to heaven, but when you get there, it will be hell. If you live in heaven now, you have a good chance of going there if you have a future life. If you're having fun now, chances are you'll have fun tomorrow, too. If you don't have fun now, you're unlikely to have fun tomorrow.

When you read the Bible or Buddhist scriptures, even a little, you can clearly understand how we should live. People obsessed with money often misinterpret it, but in reality the texts all say the same thing. I'm not saying you should believe in Buddhism, I'm saying we should strive for the truth and make our lives blessed. The Buddha could not have told us to sacrifice. Jesus was even crucified for us and the Buddha spent 45 years teaching for us. Don't look away with empty eyes, cherish the present and value your own life. This is the way to the future and the way to benefit others.

* Dharma Sharing: Ven. Pomnyun Sunim will give first in-person teachings in Europe and North America since the pandemic (BDG)

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Francois Leclercq

François Leclercq is the founder of Buddhist News, a website which aims to disseminate information and practical advice on Buddhism and spirituality. François Leclercq was born and raised in Paris. He studied Buddhism at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, where he graduated in social sciences and psychology. After graduating, he devoted himself to his passion for Buddhism and traveled the world to study and learn about different practices. He notably visited Tibet, Nepal, Thailand, Japan and China.

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