By Jerry Mooney
Is there a such thing as a venture spiritualist? Can we walk the path of aspiration and supplication? Is it possible to be humble while we seek success, or are we just rationalizing our more earthly impulses? These questions have plagued me for years. I have been strongly drawn to a spiritual path as long as I can remember. Simultaneously, I have been very enterprising. Marrying these seemingly opposite impulses has become a recent and persistent challenge.
Ambition vs. Spirituality
For most of my adult life I have resisted the idea that you can be ambitious and spiritual, toggling between the two in my mind. But with some intense and sincere introspection I’ve concluded that they are not in opposition to each other. The key, though, is they must share the same path. In fact, they must be one and the same. Does this mean the only spiritual careers are as a monk or a nun? No, it’s more of a matter of applying spirituality to all of your endeavors.
The idea that meditation could be practical drove me crazy(not exactly Zen). For example, I dismissed any talk of meditation for purpose of improving productivity or reducing stress. To me, meditation was only a doorway into higher consciousness. All other applications were toe-dipping, insincere excuses to not really explore a deep spiritual connection.
Insidently, I ignored that I have personally gone through my own development. At first, meditation felt a lot like sitting uncomfortably. Also, I was developing a rigid orthodoxy that seemed to violate my own values. What’s worse, I was becoming a hypocrite. I could exercise without training for the Olympics. Why couldn’t I merely meditate to improve my daily work experience?
Merging Career and Spiritual Practice
What I’ve come to is that my spiritual path and my career path not only could be one, they had to be. What was necessary, though, was that my work values coincided with my spiritual values. That meant I could work hard and try to succeed, but not by exploiting others, causing suffering or pursuing greed. Why not greed? Greed is not enjoying the abundance of the world, but the opposite. Greed is the fear that there is not enough.
Deepening My Connection via the Mundane
Eventually, I realized that I was developing more spiritually by applying my spiritual practices to work. It’s one thing to find peace in a quiet room. It’s another in the chaos of everyday life. Developing mindfulness among mundane activities deepens our access to meditative states.
By applying a more mindful approach to my daily work life I also realized that it was okay to achieve, succeed and have money. The pitfall is in the attachment. Identifying with money or success creates a vulnerability to change. When we realize Spirit is our only real source, we then realize that whatever perceived source of money or success is merely a conduit. The conduit can change, but the source can’t.
Sometimes it’s felt like I was playing mental dodgeball as I navigated my career and my spiritual path. By reconciling these two I’ve not found the way to spirituality, but that spirituality is the way.
Feature photo courtesy of Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial license
Jerry Mooney is co-founder and managing editor of Zenruption and the author of History Yoghurt and the Moon. He studied at the University of Munich and Lewis and Clark College where he received his BA in International Affairs and West European Studies. He has recently taught Language and Communications at a small, private college and owned various businesses, including an investment company that made him a millionaire before the age of 40. Jerry is committed to zenrupting the forces that block social, political and economic justice. He can also be found on Twitter@JerryMooney