- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 1 edition (January 28, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0517886200
- ISBN-13: 978-0517886205
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,201,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Zen at Work Paperback – January 28, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
Kaye worked at IBM for 30 years as a design engineer. He studied Zen, became a Zen master and, upon his retirement, became the Abbott of Kannon Do, a Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View, Calif. Here, Kaye shares how he came to find that his workplace could become the site of his religious practice. He learned that he could shift his interest to the dynamic process of work, to the best ways of approaching tasks and relationships so that the work environment could express a spiritual, communal feeling. The being-in-the-world emphasized in Zen, Kaye found, was no different from the character traits of integrity, morality, self-discipline, willingness to learn, responsibility and perseverance which IBM encouraged in its employees. Kaye's book is an extraordinary witness to the way Zen practice can mesh with corporate culture, for the book demonstrates elegantly how Zen thinking can transform an individual's experience of the workplace.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Kaye worked in several technical and administrative positions at IBM from 1956 to 1988 and at the same time took up the study and practice of Zen Buddhist meditation. He eventually became the abbot of the Kannon Do Zen Meditation Center in Mountain View, California. The author discovered that the precepts of Zen could be expressed everywhere in daily life and that they enhanced his ability to deal with challenging situations in the corporate world. In this engaging personal narrative, he skillfully interweaves vignettes of workplace activities with expressions of Zen Buddhist philosophy. He provides an interesting exploration of the successful integration of a committed spiritual practice and daily corporate and family life. His thoughtful, understandable, and insightful presentation offers real examples of the practical application of spiritual wisdom. Recommended for larger public libraries and business collections.?Elizabeth Salt, Otterbein Coll. Lib., Westerville, Ohio
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Top customer reviews
- The Tao of Personal Leadership by Diane Dreher
- Real Power by James Autry
I found these books to be enlightening and enjoyable, so it made sense to next try Les Kaye's book. The result was that, though Kaye's book does surely contain some wisdom, it failed to really engage me, so I didn't really gain or grow much by reading it.
The main problem seems to have been the book's presentation. First, I found the overall organization of the book to be fairly haphazard and fragmented. Second, the writing (at the level of sections, paragraphs, and sentences) didn't have the crispness and clarity of the other two books I've mentioned, so I wondered how mature Kaye's understanding really is. I acknowledge that the shortcoming may be mine, especially given that Huston Smith has praised this book, but I'll stick with my guns since I have other books to compare with, plus I've generally spent plenty of time studying Zen and Taoism over the years.
Since other people have praised this book, and since I got at least a little bit out of it also, I do think it's worth considering by people interested in this topic. But I find the other books I've mentioned to be considerably better, so I can only rate this book three stars by comparison, and I can't strongly recommend it.
The spirituality that is relevant has to be expressed in one's works. If we can't exercise spirituality in work, we have defeated God's purpose in our creation . Les Kaye refers to God as "Big Mind" and states all that we do has to be expression of this "Big Mind". The work-ethic that flows out of its integration with the "Big Mind" neither leads to boredom, nor to anxiety. Your work becomes your meditation, your prayer, your liturgy!
Though there is nothing new in this idea. It has been taught in many cultures. The Hindu doctrine of "Karma Yoga" ("yoga of action") , as taught in "Bhagvad Gita" , is perhaps the most comprehensive classical treatise on the idea of "Zen at Work". Similarly , many Sufis Masters in Islam have tried to teach the same idea. In Christianity, we have the writing of Brother Lawrence about practising the "presence of God" in our mundane work. So although "Zen at Work", is essentially a Buddhist idea, it does find echo in other spiritual teachings.
But what gives force to this book is not the originality of the idea, but the originality of the interpetation of this idea in the contemporary corporate milieu, enriched by author's own life long experience at the Big Blue. We are the instruments of God, the "Big Mind", for his sacred task of creation. Creator is creating with us and through us. If our sprituality comes in the way of this divine task of creation, for whatever reason, then obviously we have betrayed the spiritual purpose that we were created with. This is a vital idea that all serious spiritualists/meditators need to grasp. Spirituality that makes us hide from our 'worldly' responsibilities is a false spirituality. If you have absorbed spirituality properly, then the falseness of dichotomy between 'spiritual' and 'worldly' immediately becomes clear. Both are in reality expressions of each other, when rightly understood.
Zen at Work teaches us how to make ourselves the intruments of the Divine Creator, by removing our ego from the way, so that the "Big Mind" expresses its peace, harmony and majesty through us. Let go of the 'small mind', i.e. ego, so that the "Big Mind" flows spontaneously through us. This is the kernel of this great book. When we let the "Big Mind" express through us, then all our worries, anxieties and boredom - that are sometime natural products of our unfeeling capitalist evironment- also disappear. The work , however mundane and tedious, becomes an expression of union with the divine. The 'hot Buddha', the 'cold Buddha', the 'home Buddha', the 'temple Buddha'...,and yes, the "WORK Buddha'!
Thank you Les Kaye for this "great gift" from the "Big Mind".
I've practiced for a couple years, doing sitting meditation, chanting, reading sutras, kong-ans, etc. And sometimes, I've found it difficult at times to truly attain stories about some Zen master or monk who had some great insight several hundred years ago due to a circumstance involving an errant cow, a circumstance at a Buddhist monastery, or a funny incident while begging for scraps in some little village. It's fair to say I don't find myself in those situations (much), and it would certainly be convenient if Buddha had become enlightened in 1995 while working at Microsoft - the context of his teachings would be much easier to grasp.
This book helps to bridge that gap. Within just the first few pages, I could tell that the author had attained great insight into practicing Zen in the corporate environment. His explanations of how sitting meditation, right-now mind, and compassion relate to work answered a number of questions I had also pondered. And his explanations were direct and simple. The "meat" of the material is covered within about the first 30 pages. In fact, most of the remainder can be referred to randomly from time to time, like a collection of individual topics.
Practice, practice, practice. Keep a don't-know mind. Save all sentient beings. And thanks to books like this, you don't stop just because you're in a cubicle :)