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CAREERS / The Soul at Work | Examples from Life

A Single Purpose

April 06, 1998

Michael P. Smith, 48

Retail manager

As a professional auto parts retail manager and practicing Buddhist for 28 years, I've had my share of challenges in balancing my career with my spiritual pursuits. What helped me was the realization that difficulties only arise when daily life and religious practice are viewed as two different things. I've found that I'm at my best, both as a manager and as a Buddhist, when I practice my religion at work and apply my work skills in my practice of faith.

I practice my religion at work by remaining constantly aware that all living things have the Buddha nature, the potential for perfection. By keeping this awareness foremost in my mind, I'm able to work harmoniously and cooperatively with all types of people, no matter how different from mine their backgrounds or beliefs happen to be. At the same time, the work skills I've acquired by attending management seminars through the years have enabled me to take on various leadership roles within the Buddhist organization I belong to, Soka Gakkai International.

To quote from the March 1998 issue of Living Buddhism: "The Soka Gakkai International is a worldwide association with membership in 128 countries and territories. In the service of its members and society at large, the SGI centers its activities on human potentialities for individual happiness and for global peace and prosperity. The breadth and focus of its mission derive from the philosophy and practice of Nichiren Daishonin's Buddhism. Soka Gakkai means 'value-creation' society."

As a member of SGI, I engage in private meditation and regularly attend small group meetings. Our meetings often feature a guest speaker. Because we do not separate our religious lives from our daily lives, however, these speakers address more than just Buddhist topics. Child care, education, art, history and science have all been the subjects of recent talks.

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