We are discussing a question posed to me recently about the origins of the term Deep Ecumenism in my work. Besides the 18 themes in One River, Many Wells, I carry on another deeply ecumenical practice in my book, The Reinvention of Work (work was not included in the 18 themes above but truly it deserved a volume in itself), published in 1994.
Drawing on wisdom traditions from both West and East, I am struck what an amazing consensus exists in a variety of traditions around the world.
The Tao Te Ching says: “In work, do what you enjoy.”
Thomas Aquinas says: “Always rejoice in the good work that you do.”
Bhagavad Gita says: “They all attain perfection when they find joy in their work.”
Thomas Aquinas writes:
Everything gives pleasure to the extent that it is loved. It is natural for people to love their own work…and the reason is that we love to be and to live, and these are made manifest in our action. Secondly, because we all naturally love that in which we see our own good.
Aquinas again: “To live well is to work well, or display a good activity.”
Hildegard of Bingen says:
A person becomes a flowering orchard. The person that does good work is indeed this orchard bearing good fruit….Whatever humanity does with its deeds in the right or left hand permeates the universe.
The Bhagavad Gita again:
What is work? What is beyond work? Even some seers see this not aright. I will teach thee the truth of pure work, and this truth shall make thee free….All actions take place in time by the interweaving of the forces of Nature; but the person lost in selfish delusion thinks that he himself is the actor.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 91, vi, 1.
Banner Image: The Gangsta Gardener, Ron Finley, who fought for Los Angeles to change its laws on vegetable gardens in public places to provide healthy food for all. Photo by the New Zealand Embassy on Wikimedia Commons.
To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you always rejoice in the work that you do? Do you display a good activity in your work? Are you a flowering orchard and realize that you are not the actor in your working?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God