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Work as a Spiritual Practice Hardcover – February 2, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; 1 edition (February 2, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767902327
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767902328
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Spirituality at work? Isn't that the oxymoron to end all oxymorons? Not according to Lewis Richmond, a veteran corporate executive and former Zen Buddhist priest who convincingly disputes the phrase's inherent contradictions in Work as a Spiritual Practice. "Even people who are comfortable with the notion of spiritual practice," he concedes, "are skeptical when I say that it can be done not just at home or at a retreat center but in the workplace." Nonetheless, he maintains, "this book is based on the premise that it can be done, and the circumstances and challenges of our work life can be transformed into opportunities for inner growth." After explaining how common mental and emotional experiences can be parceled into four distinct categories (conflict, inspiration, accomplishment, and stagnation), he effectively shows how Buddhist principles might be employed to mitigate related problems and enhance associated opportunities. The bulk of this satisfying book is divided into sections that correspond to these categories, with each exploring appropriate practices followed by real-life examples that illustrate their power and applicability. Recommended. --Howard Rothman

From Publishers Weekly

According to the studies Richmond cites, the average American works 150 more hours per year than she or he did 80 years ago. As the dominant force in our lives, work brings with it stress, worry and other pressures that cause us to lose focus on our inner selves and to be controlled by the external forces of the workplace. Zen monk and business entrepreneur Richmond contends that approaching work as an expression of one's spiritual life, rather than as simply a job that one must slog through, will make a difference in the quality of our lives. (When we see our work through spiritual lenses, we might even quit our jobs and find a better one, says Richmond.) After opening chapters in which he discusses the value and practice of Buddhist meditation, Richmond shows how this spiritual practice can be applied to work. In a second section, he explores such issues of conflict as stress, worry and anger and suggests practical ways to deal with each. He then examines the ways that boredom, failure and discouragement lead to stagnation in the workplace. Two final sections discuss elements of "inspiration" and "accomplishment," including ambition, forgiveness, generosity and gratitude. Each chapter contains a set of "practices" to incorporate into our daily work. In lively prose, Richmond argues that "the details of our workday contain within them any number of gifts for our spirit, if only we would allow ourselves to receive them."
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

I am Lewis Richmond, Buddhist teacher and author of four books, including the national bestseller WORK AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE (1999) which was re-issued as an e-book in June, 2011. My latest book, Aging As A Spiritual Practice, was published by Gotham Books in January, 2012.

My home website is WWW.LEWISRICHMOND.COM

My home Buddhist meditation group is in Mill Valley/Tiburon, CA and is called The Vimala Sangha (http://www.VimalaSangha.org). I also teach workshops through the San Francisco Bay area. You can find me on face book at

http://www.facebook.com/lewisrichmondauthor

I blog on the Huffington Post at:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lewis-richmond

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 13, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I read a lot of buddhist and other religious/spiritual/contemplative sorts of books, and I've always been interested in reading about and exploring ways of incorporating spirituality and religious belief into the "secular" world of work. I've read several good books that relate to this (Charlotte Joko Beck's are particularly good), but there's also a lot of fluff and hooey out there on this topic as well. Richmond's book is right up there with Beck's, and really as far as relating to the actual work place it is probably even more directly on target.
The two things I liked the best about the book are these: (1) The buddhist thought has real rigor behind it. Richmond was a Zen priest who, to be brief, knows what he's talking about. (2) The overall tone of the discussion of how spirtuality relates to work is direct and practical (many different sorts of interesting practices and exercises are suggested)but also open-ended enough that I found plenty of "room" for my own experiences and interpretations to come through.
Richmond writes from the perspective of his experience as the head of a start-up software firm in California - a situation designed to challenge (or perhaps to develop) a spiritual, moral sense if there ever was one.
Our work environments need this kind of message in a big way. And individuals, whether they are in very good or very bad (or everything in between) current work situations will find something of value in this book. This is not new age hang-a-crystal-over-your-desk BS - it is an intelligent application of millenia-old religious and philosophical thought to one of the biggest problems we each face in our daily lives.
This ought to be required reading! :)
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Jesse A Whyte on February 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
Let's face it, if you study Buddhism you probably have at least a dozen solid theoretical texts lining your bookshelves. And if there is any area in which those texts seem to be weak, it is in their approach to applying Buddhist tenets to the modern workplace. At first glance, Western capitalism and Eastern spirituality appear distinctly at oods. How is it possible to follow Buddha's Right Livelihood tenet and still succeed in the cutthroat workplace?
Mr. Richmond has been there and done that. He brings practical advice that is soundly grounded in Buddhist thought and tradition. He doesn't try to pretend that it is realistic to construct an altar at your desk, but provides reasonable ways to extend your spirituality to the workplace. Above all else, this book is a practical set of guidelines for maintaining your spirituality in America's competitive workplace. I've only just read it, but it has helped me immensely to find ways to make my worklife simply an extension of the rest of my life.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
You will find something that applies to whatever kind of work day you are having. I read it as I struggled with a decision to quit or not quit; to compromise my personal beliefs or keep my job. I already knew the answers, but this book was comfortingly reassuring and supportive of the path I knew was correct for me. Now when I go back to reread, and reread sections, I always find something that helps me survive whatever work situation with which I'm dealing.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book. It was very easy to read, and provided lots of practical advice on all sorts of work problems ranging from stress to stagnation. It accepts the premise that emotions (such as anger) do happen at work, and provides advice on how to diffuse the negative aspects of emotions and harness the positive energy. This book was very helpful to me and probably would be helpful for many people.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Laura K. Soule on February 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
Over the years, I've gotten in the habit of taking this book out if any work environment I found myself in started to feel, shall we say, un-zen-like. Addressing issues of anger ("hot truth"), worry, ambition, and yes, quitting, Mr. Richmond gives work a new perspective. In this book, he has turned work into a mental discipline and even provides some guides to meditation, trying to show us that work doesn't have to be some chore we do because we're not independently wealthy. Did you ever imagine that the concept of 'generosity' may have a constructive role at work? As someone who's been in the workforce since high-school and who has done many different things for money (washing dishes, caring for farm animals, answering phones, fetching tea for visiting dignitaries, designing databases, and managing marketing campaigns), this book does not seem to be exclusively for those in white-collar industries.

I firmly believe that work really doesn't, and shouldn't, have to suck. But I wish Mr. Richmond would address the powerful, universal force of entropy, which may be why most workplaces tend towards disfunction in the first place.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Christopher T. Wortham on September 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read this book.What I like about it is that he gives real life stories of people.He tells them in a way to help the reader out .It is worthwhile for anyone to read and then apply to their own work lives.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tristan Heberlein on February 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book is a wonderful book to have on a nearby bookshelf to refer to on a regular basis. It's simply-written chapters, which are each devoted to a specific subject (i.e. boredom, frustration, anxiety, etc.), are great to read in the evening while reflecting on one's work life. It brings me a general sense of calm and peace every time I pick it up.
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