Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on December 17, 2014

I have had a lifetime of keeping busy, and I mean really busy. I tend to keep focused and have taken that focus into the most tedious areas possible, like recording and documenting all recorded music, all movies and films, all Rock and Roll concert posters, the largest astrology library in the world, and so on. What is creative about all of this tedious, boring data-entry and documentation work? That's what I am going to tell you about.

Data entry and computer programming, part of what I have done, is seemingly endless. It stretches on beyond the limits of a human lifetime, so it is not about to be finished anytime soon. One might think that the mind would go crazy doing this kind of work. If you think of such mundane work as an end in itself, perhaps that is true, but this medium has a message.

If you consider all the tediousness as a window into the mind, things get brighter. We can do the work. Our fingers stay on the keyboard. Our mind is clearly right there, on task, less we make mistakes. That is a given.

But doing all of that so carefully also brings a window of clarity, itself worth all the focus and concentration. It is not unlike the yogis that can sit in a cave meditating for years at a time. Well, of course it is unlike the yogis in some ways, but it also has important similarities in that the mind is kept focused, without a letup, at least while we are working. That alone is an accomplishment that is similar to what meditating yogis do.

In fact, I am better at meditating while doing busy work than I am at meditating on the cushion. I have never tried to add up my total time over the years sitting on a cushion, but I do know I have 44 years or more of intensely concentrating for, usually, 12-14 hours a day. That adds up. It's no wonder something came out of that other than the finished tedious tasks themselves.

And no less an expert than my own root guru once pointed out to a group of us that those people who do work on computer tasks that demand great concentration, like programming (which is what I did) have a leg up as far as learning the basic muscle-memory technique of meditation. Of course, when I heard that, it was a wakeup call for me to take advantage of whatever advantage all that computer-concentration gave me, so you know I looked into it.

And sure enough, in my day-to-day work I found much of what I had been looking for all this time on the meditation cushion, but without all the self-consciousness that making a big deal of my daily meditation on a cushion put me through. On the computer I was long past all that, totally at rest in the extreme busyness of coding or the tedious work of entering data exactly. I was at rest in the demanding activity of not making mistakes in my computer work, with the result that I was just very clear.

All I needed was to transfer all that concentration and the clarity it demanded to other parts of my life, including my meditation time on the cushion, which is just the opposite of the usual approach, where we learn to meditate and then transfer that ability to other things in life. How backward is that?

My point here is that we might look to the things that we naturally love to do for the discipline needed for mind training, and not just attempt to generate that discipline only from the mind-training practices themselves, especially if it does not come naturally to us. Preferably, we do them both. I did.

As an employer who has hired many hundreds of people over the years, what I describe above and in the last couple of blogs is exactly what every employer looks and hopes for. It is also the key to advancing in a company.

A company may be taking advantage of us economically, paying us too little, asking too much, and so forth. But don't get lost in that thought; it's not worth boycotting work or going on strike when instead we can simply out-produce and outwork what is asked of us. Of course, if we pitch in, the employer benefits, but so do we. We preserve our integrity, become more skilled, and eventually more mobile, deserving higher pay and advancement.

When I was young I was tempted to shirk at my temporary jobs, to lay back and ride whenever I could. Of course my employers were hurt by this, but I thought they deserved it. Yet the real loser was me, because I was not learning, not advancing, and felt guilty about it at the same time.

One freedom we all have and which we always have is the freedom to do things with love and care. This makes whatever we do authentic and not just meaningless because we didn't really care to give it our best. Even if it is working for pay, working for others, we can still use all our skillful means and do it with heart. It is not about giving our heart or too much of ourselves away to an employer, for example, but rather about keeping it alive for ourselves. The employer may not pay us a living wage or enough, but the greatest mistake in the world-of-work is to add insult to injury by begrudging the employer our best intent and heart because we are for hire. We only injure ourselves, and miss an opportunity to authentically contribute to our own legacy, not to mention excel in the workplace.

It pays and is advantageous to give our bestand to work with heart, even at the most mundane tasks, like data entry, which I did many, many years of. That way we keep our authenticity, keep it real, which is so easily lost when we hold back.

If we are going to go, we might as well go all the way. I believe it was Gurdjieff in "Tales of Beelzebob" who said: "If you go on a spree, then go whole hog, including the postage."

[Batik of me that my artist-mother, Phyllis Erlewine, did of me back in the 1960s.]