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Work As a Spiritual Practice: A Practical Buddhist Approach to Inner Growth and Satisfaction on the Job [Hardcover]

Lewis Richmond
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Mar 1999
A guide to developing and maintaining a spiritual life on the job, drawn from the teachings and practices of Buddhist tradition.

Most people associate Buddhism with developing calm, kindness, and compassion through meditation. Lewis Richmond's Work as a Spiritual Practice shows us another aspect of Buddhism: the active, engaged side that allows us to find creativity, inspiration, and accomplishment in our work lives.

With over forty spiritual exercises that can be practiced in the middle of a busy workday, Work as a Spiritual Practice is based on the principle that "regardless of your rank and title at work, you are always the chief executive of your inner life." Its core message is one of spiritual empowerment, where every workplace situation, no matter how challenging, can become an opportunity for spiritual growth.

Drawn from the author's diverse professional experience--as a Buddhist meditation teacher, business executive, musician, and high-tech entrepreneur--as well as from his "Workplace Spirituality" workshops, Work as a Spiritual Practice addresses a wide variety of on-the-job problems. It adapts traditional Buddhist psychology to divide common workplace situations into four main categories--conflict, stagnation, inspiration, and accomplishment--and offers a variety of practices appropriate for each. Here you'll learn how to:


Turn ordinary worry into a form of concentrated spiritual inquiry
Meditate while sitting, walking, or standing--a minute at a time
Perform spiritual practices while commuting to and from work
Manage stress by learning to cultivate an awareness of the body
Understand ambition, money, and power from a spiritual perspective
Deal with boredom, discouragement, and failure


Each chapter is liberally illustrated with real-life stories of people from many walks of life--nurses, plumbers, receptionists, taxi drivers, executives, office managers, musicians, and home office workers--each of whom has found ways to apply the practices described in the book. Some of these stories are told by people who attended the author's workshops; others are told by people he has met in the workplace. These experiences join with the author's own to provide a rich and diverse offering of teaching, practical advice, and inspiration.

Work as a Spiritual Practice is an essential guide for anyone who wants to bring his or her spiritual life and work life together. A fascinating combination of traditional Buddhist teachings, illustrative anecdotes, and practical business savvy, this innovative spiritual guidebook teaches us that finding joy in our work is the best definition of success.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 258 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; 1 edition (Mar 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767902327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767902328
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,321,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
While many such books manage only to highlight the difficulties of the world of work, Lewis Richmond fills his with really practical advice on top of spiritual insight. His experience as a Soto Zen monk turned entrepreneur is both unusual and valuable.
I liked it because I could see my own situations in it -- everything from why I loved my work to why I occasionally hated it, from conflict to quitting, inspiration to accomplishment.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First class book on managing your emotions 5 Mar 2002
Format:Paperback
Absolutely first rate book on how to manage yourself in the workplace. The book goes through the full range of emotions and how to make them work for you. I am actually angry about a matter at the moment and I am using the instruction in the book as a way to manage the situation. A truly great asset to have at hand.
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Format:Paperback
We studied this book at work and found it to be really helpful. It raised several questions and prompted discussion around some topics which are often difficult to explore.

I especially liked the way the different topics are divided up, which made it particularly helpful when reading over several weeks and months.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  14 reviews
53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A uniquely excellent treatment of this subject 13 Mar 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I read a lot of buddhist and other religious/spiritual/contemplative sorts of books, and I've always been interested in reading about and exploring ways of incorporating spirituality and religious belief into the "secular" world of work. I've read several good books that relate to this (Charlotte Joko Beck's are particularly good), but there's also a lot of fluff and hooey out there on this topic as well. Richmond's book is right up there with Beck's, and really as far as relating to the actual work place it is probably even more directly on target.
The two things I liked the best about the book are these: (1) The buddhist thought has real rigor behind it. Richmond was a Zen priest who, to be brief, knows what he's talking about. (2) The overall tone of the discussion of how spirtuality relates to work is direct and practical (many different sorts of interesting practices and exercises are suggested)but also open-ended enough that I found plenty of "room" for my own experiences and interpretations to come through.
Richmond writes from the perspective of his experience as the head of a start-up software firm in California - a situation designed to challenge (or perhaps to develop) a spiritual, moral sense if there ever was one.
Our work environments need this kind of message in a big way. And individuals, whether they are in very good or very bad (or everything in between) current work situations will find something of value in this book. This is not new age hang-a-crystal-over-your-desk BS - it is an intelligent application of millenia-old religious and philosophical thought to one of the biggest problems we each face in our daily lives.
This ought to be required reading! :)
27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Emminently Practical 15 Feb 2002
By Jesse A Whyte - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Let's face it, if you study Buddhism you probably have at least a dozen solid theoretical texts lining your bookshelves. And if there is any area in which those texts seem to be weak, it is in their approach to applying Buddhist tenets to the modern workplace. At first glance, Western capitalism and Eastern spirituality appear distinctly at oods. How is it possible to follow Buddha's Right Livelihood tenet and still succeed in the cutthroat workplace?
Mr. Richmond has been there and done that. He brings practical advice that is soundly grounded in Buddhist thought and tradition. He doesn't try to pretend that it is realistic to construct an altar at your desk, but provides reasonable ways to extend your spirituality to the workplace. Above all else, this book is a practical set of guidelines for maintaining your spirituality in America's competitive workplace. I've only just read it, but it has helped me immensely to find ways to make my worklife simply an extension of the rest of my life.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars USEFUL EVERY DAY! 21 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
You will find something that applies to whatever kind of work day you are having. I read it as I struggled with a decision to quit or not quit; to compromise my personal beliefs or keep my job. I already knew the answers, but this book was comfortingly reassuring and supportive of the path I knew was correct for me. Now when I go back to reread, and reread sections, I always find something that helps me survive whatever work situation with which I'm dealing.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars All employees and managers should read this book! 3 Jun 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is an excellent book. It was very easy to read, and provided lots of practical advice on all sorts of work problems ranging from stress to stagnation. It accepts the premise that emotions (such as anger) do happen at work, and provides advice on how to diffuse the negative aspects of emotions and harness the positive energy. This book was very helpful to me and probably would be helpful for many people.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Puts work into a whole new light 25 Feb 2010
By Laura K. Soule - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Over the years, I've gotten in the habit of taking this book out if any work environment I found myself in started to feel, shall we say, un-zen-like. Addressing issues of anger ("hot truth"), worry, ambition, and yes, quitting, Mr. Richmond gives work a new perspective. In this book, he has turned work into a mental discipline and even provides some guides to meditation, trying to show us that work doesn't have to be some chore we do because we're not independently wealthy. Did you ever imagine that the concept of 'generosity' may have a constructive role at work? As someone who's been in the workforce since high-school and who has done many different things for money (washing dishes, caring for farm animals, answering phones, fetching tea for visiting dignitaries, designing databases, and managing marketing campaigns), this book does not seem to be exclusively for those in white-collar industries.

I firmly believe that work really doesn't, and shouldn't, have to suck. But I wish Mr. Richmond would address the powerful, universal force of entropy, which may be why most workplaces tend towards disfunction in the first place.
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