Posted by: Mike Ferruggia | August 30, 2010

The Ordinary Life

Part of what attracts us to the journey and to the higher path is a recognition of how extraordinary and awesome life is. I admire those who practice a spiritual path with discipline, and try to be as disciplined as I can in my own practice of contemplative tai chi chuan kung fu. I look at monks and nuns of various faiths, at martial artists who dedicate their lives to their practice, and I am impressed at the extraordinary quality of their life.

But there is also a quality of the ordinary in what they do–they strive to live an ordinary life because what they are doing should be the norm in a sense, it should be normal and ordinary to recognize the journey.

But I started this post dealing with another understanding of the ordinary life. As I carve out a “way” for myself, which has elements of the extraordinary in it, I realize I should come to an understanding of the many people in this world who opt to live an ordinary life, and there’s really nothing wrong with it at all.

My idea of an “ordinary” life is having a regular job, getting married and raising a family. One doesn’t have to be a hermit living on top of a mountain or secluded in the woods prac ticing tai chi all day to gain an understanding of the deep holiness of life. Working and nurturing a family can also reveal the sacredness and holiness of who we really are.

The issue, I suppose, is that there are many people who opt to live an ordinary life but do so totally unaware, with their heads in the sand. They do it, live it, but it just goes by and they are oblivious. Or they chase after illusions, wealth, power, and get good at they game and succeed at it and pass it down through the generations, never seeing it was all an illusion, not real.

So, having an ordinary life, a job where one does his duty, raises a family, is very good, but it too should be done with mindfulness, with awareness, with appreciation, with love.

It is very hard during these times to find work that one can do with integrity and with mindfulness and with dignity. There is great pressure to mold the human being to a mold, to control and manipulate workers purely for profit, and it’s easy to catch people up in the fever and have them buy into the matrix and “drink the koolaid.” False enthusiasm, fake friendliness sneaqks its way in all too often in order to manipulate and control a client or customer, wheras genuine enthusiasm and genuine friendliness, a genuine smile, work well in all kinds of situations.

The other great danger I see, aside from the fact that a lot of jobs just have the uncanny ability to suck all your life force right out of you, is the danger of becoming a collaborator, moving up the career path and being rewarded and entrusted by those in charge to make a little more money for yourself, make a lot more money for them, and in return, do the dirty work.

You don’t have to have acheived some sort of nirvana and you don’t have to go through life like some holy person. You can live a good ordinary life if you follow proper principles–good will, love, compassion, honesty and integrity in everything, modesty and innocence and gentleness and a sense of justice. Working everyday and getting married and having kids and being a mean spirited person is not the way.

There are many people who will never be confronted with a moral issue at the workplace. They will go to work day in and day out, do what they do, put in an honest day’s work and get paid accordingly. But someday, you might be confronted with doing something you consider not right, asked to hurt someone in the name of profit, and you’ll have to decide whether you’re afraid of losing your job or your soul.



  1. People always think to much so when it does something it turn into an awful mess. Instead of having a better life it turns to worse. Today, to live an ordinary good life is the most extraordinary thing to do. Nice insights!

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