Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | July 11, 2009

Clear Your Mind

We need to find time to clear our minds to make room for the source to get in. I have been fortunate for many years that I have not had to gunk up my mind too much with busy work and worries and anxieties and distractions. I was able to stay focused throughout the day, remaining centered, remaining connected. I am finding that my new job is taking up a lot of space in my head, there’s a lot to be done managing a retail store, there’s a lot of new things, I’m building a new team, I’m learning many new things. Where I would have been visualizing tai chi moves in my head, I’m now thinking of scheduling interviews and preparing for corporate visits. My morning is spent thinking when I’ll have time to iron my shirts.

This is the danger most people fall into. If it’s not work, they gunk up their minds with other distractions, keeping us in what buddhism would call the four lower worlds. I’m using my ride to work to chant, nam myoho renge kyo. I used my day off for laundry and tai chi. We’ve got to be diligent to free up the mind for meditation, contemplation, clarity. Pollish the mirror.



  1. The best jobs… it depends what you are measuring them by. I have a friend who was once upon a time a college professor of mine, and sometimes he’d hire me for odd jobs. He was great to work for because he was intelligent, cultured, and had a lot of respect for me. In that sense it was one of the best jobs– comfortable and pleasant. He also paid well, and there were various side benefits. (He is a music professor, and we once had to attend a Yo Yo Ma concert…)

    Those days are long, long ago. Now I’m in Afghanistan, and what’s my job? Actually, I’m a counterinsurgent, when you step back and look at it all. We don’t really think of the job that way, but that’s what it is. I’ve been in Kandahar for over a year, and I’m probably one of the few expats who can say that– it’s a tiny community down here, unlike crowded Kabul.

    Kabul is totally unlike Kandahar, and even the Afghans in Kabul are profoundly out of touch with how things are down here. As a result, I’m in a position to explain things to my Kabul coworkers from a perspective that they will never have. I understand Kandahar in a way they never will, and Kandahar is probably more representative of Afghanistan as a whole than Kabul is.

    Because of my knowledge of Kandahar, the very small number of others with similar knowledge, and my ability as a writer (such as it is), I’ve managed to get some high-level attention from time to time. Generals, ambassadors, and possibly Hillary Clinton have read stuff I’ve written, and occassionally my own words have come full-circle and reached me again.

    A lot if times I am saying things that they are discovering on their own anyway, but I believe I’m having some small influence. Within my own company I’ve had measurable influence, and there’s been a gradual shift in strategy to the sort of things I’ve been haranguing my Kabul coworkers about for months. Again, because of my knowledge of the place and ability to write somewhat persuasively, I’ve been able to exert an unusual amount of influence. The way we are waging this war– part of that is me.

    Now, which job is better? This jobs sucks; I’m away from my family, I live practically under house arrest, I’m away from my family, nothing in this country works, and I’m away from my family. Working for the professor was fun, and had me home every night.

    One job was a joy to me, personally, and the other job benefits (I hope) the world at large. So the question of which is the better job comes down to a question of which is more important– me or the world? Buddhism, as I understand it, would have us seek enlightenment, develop ourselves, and strive to enter Nirvana. This is a teaching that focuses on the self, and dismisses the world as maya, as illusion. Christianity teaches that the world is fallen, and teaches that we have a role in putting it back together. This calls for love and sacrifice on the part of the Christian, and for building for the kingdom of God, and for hope.

    • Some of what you write reminds me of Daniel Elsberg’s book, I don’t remember the name of it, but his experiences in vietnam, gaining an understanding on the ground, trying to get the higher ups to listen. Sounds like you’re making a bit more progress, and I don’t know how you feel about Ellsberg in toto, but that similarity was there.

      As for jobs, I know each one has a purpose, not a higher purpose as if it were from god, but a purpose for me to co create and make of it what I should; for me, putting it in the context of being a tai chi man. Quick example–last night, one really nice lady with diabetes who couldn’t feel her feet. I measured her foot for her, put her shoes on for her, watched her walk, tested the fit. She was so grateful. Another woman, curmudgeon personified. I remained nice. She filled out a sweepstakes form all the while asserting that it was a fraud and that I would probably thow it out at the end of the night. I encouraged her to think positively and smiled. I so wanted to rip her entry into a million pieces, but decided not to as I am recently more aware of my own cause and effect, and the question arises, would it change any of her perspective if she actually won?

      As for me, I’m paying the bills, this job may finish my goal of getting out of debt, I am still pursuing my tai chi projects, and someday I may be in that hermitage I think about every day.

      Are you guys hiring!? I might do well for a year in Afghanistan. Although, I guess I haven’t been shot at in the mall…yet.


  2. I don’t like being responsible for the actions of others. But this is management and this is where the”money” is. The best jobs are low on the totem pole. You come in, do your work, and go home. If Mary or Tom are jerkoffs, it’s management’s problem. But you can’t live on those salaries…you can, but not at a certain level.
    I don’t know if I’d rather be on the farm picking the coffee, in the factory roasting it, or behind the counter selling it…it’s an amazing world we live in!

  3. Adam Smith wrote about this. The laws of economics dictate that the farther one’s job is from the raw, productive land, the more time one expends in labor. Retailers, being the end of the chain, have it the very worst.

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