We are considering how Deep Ecumenism sheds light on human work.  In my book, The Reinvention of Work, I invoke Deep Ecumenism as a method, that is to say, I go to many of the world’s spiritual traditions to draw out their teachings about work.  One finds an amazing consensus and much depth and insight on work.

Inspired singing. Photo by Taylor on Unsplash

Consider this teaching from Meister Eckhart: “People must be so empty of all things and all works, whether inward or outward, that they can become a proper home for God, wherein God may operate.”  The Spirit operates in us and actually becomes the work we do, Eckhart is saying—so long as we are willing to let go and allow Spirit in.  When we do our emptying, “God’s self becomes the place wherein God wants to act” and “people attain the eternal being that they once were, now are, and will eternally remain.”   

The Bhagavad Gita says:

Know therefore what is work, and also know what is wrong work.  And know also of a work that is silence: mysterious is the path of work.  The person who in his or her work finds silence, and who sees that silence is work, this person in truth sees the Light and in all his or her works finds peace. 

A surgeon’s work demands knowledge, skill….and intuition. Photo by Olga Guryanova on Unsplash

There is such a thing as work and “wrong work.”  Authentic work includes silence and mystery and through it we become instruments of light and finders of peace.

The Tao Te Ching teaches:

Do your work, then step back
The only path to serenity….
He who clings to his work
Will create nothing that endures.
If you want to accord with the Tao,
Just do your job then let go.  


Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work, pp. 25f, 53.

Banner Image: Drummer, author, entrepreneur, and community leader Kokomon Clottey offers a mindful drumming workshop at the Attitudinal Healing Connection in Oakland, CA. Photo from the AHC website.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you find silence and mystery, light and peace in your work?  Do you find God, Spirit, the Tao at work in your work, both inner and outer?


Recommended Reading

The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood For Our Time

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”
“Fox approaches the level of poetry in describing the reciprocity that must be present between one’s inner and outer work…[A]n important road map to social change.” ~~ National Catholic Reporter

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4 thoughts on “Deep Ecumenism & Work, continued”

  1. Avatar

    Empty is my soul,
    An open vessel that descends,
    Into the void of Divine Love.

    Surrendered to letting go
    Trusting that I’m held
    With a braided cord.

    Finite humanness,
    Dipped in the waters,
    Of infinte beingness.

    Entering the womb,
    Embryonic fluids,
    Nurture my becoming.

    Fully emmersed,
    My every breath,
    Reliant upon another.

    Spirit breathes,
    Sustaining presence,
    Essence of my existence.

    Timely gestation,
    The sounds of silence,
    An awakening song.

    What once forgotten,
    Brought to remembrance,
    Slowly taking form.

    Rhythms of the Heart,
    Beating together as One,
    Welcomed wholeness.

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