Here is the article I promised from the friend I quoted:
Being a social worker makes me a better Buddhist. Being a Buddhist makes me a better social worker.
Someone wrote me on Facebook to say they thought this was a good Kadampa motto. Replace “social worker” with your job title.
And ask: Does my meditation practice help my job and does my job fuel my meditation practice? (If yes, you’re all set, as you probably spend most of your waking hours at work… ) Here is how one person is doing it:
“For almost three years now I have been training to be a social worker. It’s been difficult, challenging and very busy but I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
I feel I have been on quite a journey, developing as a person and as a social work practitioner. Throughout my time Kadampa Buddhism has helped me cope, stay calm and transform difficult situations for myself and others.
My daily meditation practices have helped me keep a good motivation at the beginning of the day and allowed me to off load any stress at the end of day when I have got back from work or study.
I have found that the Buddhist values and way of life are not dissimilar to that of a social worker. Social workers have a code of ethics which include: human dignity and worth, social justice (e.g. equal treatment without prejudice or discrimination), service (e.g. enabling people to develop their potential), integrity and competence.
Compassion and love for others is an integral part of Kadampa Buddhism and of becoming a bodhisattva. My kind teacher, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso in Meaningful to Behold says a bodhisattva is someone who wishes to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings and that they are motivated by the desire to benefit all living beings (p95-96).
I aspire to be like this and find with practice it can become natural to want to help those who are around you whether that is at home or at work.
In one of my placements I helped people staying in a mental health hostel with their daily living. I helped and advised them with their shopping and budgeting, encouraging them to go to social activities or work and engaging in therapeutic activities with them such as making pizzas, cookies and playing pool. This work seemed natural for me from the intentions, minds and values I have discovered through Kadampa Buddhism.”
I’m looking for 30 or so Social Work Mediators who would be willing to participate in a qualitative and/or quantitative research study for my Masters Thesis. If you are interested I can be reached at email@example.com.
I have been a social worker for 20 years. Prior to encountering the teachings of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso I was completely and totally burned out as a social worker in an inpatient HIV and Oncology unit. I was ready to throw in the towel and try working in a coffee shop or as a gas station attendant…. if they would have me. After encountering the blessings of the aforementioned teachings I felt a renewed sense of compassion and energy. Now I do my best as a social worker to assist people to have a calm and peaceful death. I love it!
Thank you Amy, so helpful.
It is wonderful that when we practice Kadam Dharma skilfully — identifying always with our potential for happiness and savoring happiness so that we have something so positive to share with others — burn out is prevented and we are really able to help people. I know you have found yourself in many challenging situations, but you are always inspiringly courageous and positive. The people you help are lucky.
Funny that this post should be done on my birthday, and I, too, am a social worker! Aside from that though, this is such a lovely reminder of what we as Kadampas have the potential to do with the Dharma to help transform conditions into spiritual fuel. I get asked this SO often by people who know what I do; “How do you cope, and does your Buddhism help you?” To me, the title of social worker is a thin veil that I wear while I practice AND receive Geshela’s teachings. The Dharma helps me to have a happy mind, to help others, and give my life real meaning – especially when the going gets tough and it gets harder and harder to provide any mundane benefit through the work. Thank you for this blog!
Happy Birthday Kat!
Thank you for your great comment. Would love to hear more — if you write an article, even a short one, I could post it on this blog for everyone…