The story is told of Francis of Assisi being asked, while hoeing his garden, "What would you do if you suddenly learned that you were to die at sunset today?" He replies, "I would finish hoeing my garden."
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After reading the above story some 15 years ago, and then still serving in the Christian faith as a pastor, I wrote this in the presentation for this site.
Today, I shuffled through some mail, made phone calls to some sick church members, visited and prayed with a dear lady who lost her son in an untimely and sudden death, laid hands on and had healing prayer for a little girl who had missed school due to a headache she awakened with, stood beside the hospital bed of a man of eighty-nine years and listened to stories from his earlier days—especially he was delighted to tell me of how he met and fell in love with his late wife—, ... Now, I am writing this for you. I feel the peace and contentment of knowing that if I were to die before darkness sheds its veil over this earth tonight, I would be glad I spent my day the way I did today. The details of this day was the Will of God for me.
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A Buddhist story, similar to the above of Francis of Assisi, tells of a sage, after being enlightened, responding to the question, "What do you do now that you're enlightened?" "Before, I cut wood and carried water, now I cut wood and carry water."
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In Hinduism is the wisdom path called "karma yoga," or "union [with God, the Unmanifest] by action." The classic on this is the Bhagavad Gita. In this classic we read inspiring passages such as the following, as Krishna, the incarnation of the god of love, Vishnu, speaks to the warrior, Arguna:
Fulfill all your duties; action is better than inaction. Even to maintain your body, Arjuna, you are obliged to act. Selfish action imprisons the world. Act selflessly, without any thought of personal profit.
Every selfless act, Arjuna, is born from Brahman [God, the Unmanifest], the eternal, infinite Godhead. Brahman is present in every act of service. All life turns on this law, O Arjuna. Those who violate it, indulging the senses for their own pleasure and ignoring the needs of others, have wasted their life. But those who realize the Self are always satisfied. Having found the source of joy and fulfillment, they no longer seek happiness from the external world. They have nothing to gain or lose by any action.... Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.
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The moment you attach to how others will respond to your work, positively or negatively, you separate yourself from the work. Acting wisely, wholeheartedly, there is no separation of self and work. Those of a devotional path, they work, work being worship. No work of such a being is not worship, regardless of what is the work.
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When young, I was taught, as are many Christians, that work is a result of sin. This is based on a reading of the Book of Genesis. Yet, not so. Work is meant to be a pleasure, a way to be in union with life. Kahlil Gibran speaks to this, saying ...
Always you have been told that work is a curse and labour a misfortune. But I say to you that when you work you fulfill a part of earth’s furthest dream, assigned to you when that dream was born, And in keeping yourself with labour you are in truth loving life, And to love life through labour is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret.
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*The theme of "Lotus of the Heart" is 'Living in Love beyond Beliefs.' This work is presented by Brian K. Wilcox, of Maine, USA. You can order Brian's book, An Ache for Union: Poems on Oneness with God through Love, through major online booksellers.
*Quotes... Ecknath Easwaran. The Bhagavad Gita; Kahlil Gibran. The Prophet.