i saw an answer here that i liked:

... Of course we have all these grand ideas about the great business we want to open, or the great way we could help people, or other visions of great success - but they are only projections of thought into the future. This projection creates a mismatch between "here" and "there". From this mismatch comes dukkha, the feeling of wrongness.

Instead, for any success you will have achieved, there must be a pathway from where you are now, to there, with the first step being within reach. Therefore the only way to get there is to work with what you have right here and now. So do your best with what life gives you at every given moment ...

i have a job i don't like - it hurts my legs because of long standing time - and i was thinking about other career paths... of ways i can earn money and leave this job - like starting a private business - but in light of the above answer, is it a bad idea to think about this, from Buddhism perspective?

i would really like to know your thoughts on this: should i stop and just work without thinking about a better job / a private business?

  • 2
    I believe that best way to change something is to accept it. Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 5:50
  • 1
    I believe the answer lies in the citation. Start with what you have now and gradually take action in the direction of a new job. What seeds can you plant here & now for your goal? There must be a middle way between accepting what is and acting to make the conditions necessary for our goals to appear. In the Noble Path we have Right Effort. We should also have Effort in our daily lives to accomplish our goals.
    – user4878
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 6:33

3 Answers 3


Let me give a metaphor for this. Imagine you are standing at the foothill of a great mountain...

And you think, oh how nice would it be, to stand on top of this mountain. It would truly be a great sight, a majestic sight, a big achievement on my part - and what kinds of great friends would I make on the top! they would certainly be much more interesting people than ones I have down here. It would be so awesome to be up there! In comparison to that, how unfortunate I am to be down here! -- And so forth and so on, this is what goes through your mind.

Now, Buddhism does not say you should stay at the bottom all the time. But just thinking about the top is useless. Moreover, the craving for the top, and comparison with your position at the bottom - creates that painful feeling of wrongness, dukkha.

Instead, if you say: the top is up there. Let me look under my feet. Which little step can I make now? Let me forget about the top for now, let me forget about the levels, let me focus on the steps under my feet. I don't know exactly where I'm going - I've never been there. I don't know the exact path - and I can't spend my whole life planning it or I will never get anywhere. Instead, as long as I have the overall direction right, and start making the steps - I will get there sooner or later, guaranteed.

What do I need to do right here to get over there? Starting right now I must make every step as an investment. I must stop roaming randomly like others who don't have the same goal. Every step I take can get me either 1 inch in the right direction, 12 inches in the right direction, 1 inch in the wrong direction, or 12 inches in the wrong direction. So I must develop this habit of making a better step if possible every time. Start small: I have 10 dollars - no need to figure out the perfect way to spend them, just minimize waste. Minimize going in the wrong direction. Then with time it will come by itself, the knowledge of the best possible step.

Another way to approach this is by imitating the qualities of people who got to the top. How does the owner of the private business behave? Your manager at work asks you to do something - do you act like you are the real business owner? (This is called "taking the goal as the path". Some say this is the more advanced way, the faster way. The two schools keep arguing which way is better ;)

So in short, speculative thinking about the abstract goal is "bad" - it does not get you anywhere, it only generates suffering. Instead, by not going in the wrong direction today, by not going randomly here and there today, by minimizing the waste today, and by imitating the qualities of the people who did it, - we can create the path connecting this place under our feet with the high goal.

I hope this is not too abstract for you. By "going in the wrong direction" I meant spending money on things that will suck your money in the future. By "going in the right direction" I meant spending money on things that will bring you some money in the future. By "going randomly here and there" I meant spending money on other goals and random entertainment. By "minimizing waste" I meant every time you spend your money try to make a small improvement. By "imitating qualities of people who got there" I meant try to imagine how they think and do what they would do. Hope this helps.

And since we are on Buddhism Q&A site, by "wrong direction" I also meant unwholesome thinking, by "right direction" I meant wholesome thinking, by "minimize waste" I meant to watch for and control the hangups manifesting in daily life, and by "imitating" the accomplished people I meant trying to imagine how the Buddha would have reacted to the same life challenges.

  • it was helpful - i didnt fully understand this part : "Your manager at work asks you to do something - do you act like you are the real business owner? This is called "taking the goal as the path". Some say this is the more advanced way, the faster way. The two schools keep arguing which way is better ;)"
    – breath
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 5:12
  • It just means you can apply the same advice to Buddhism and the quest for Enlightenment.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 5:16
  • i didnt understand it - should i act like the business owner ? i do what he tells me to do - and i dont understand what school are you on (the rest of the answer you gave is perfectly clear to me)
    – breath
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 5:20
  • i belive i understood what you said though : that like i do what my boss tells me to do and not try to run the buissness i should act the same in life and not look very far ahead and focus on the next step but i just want to make sure i understood this part it correctly and thats why i ask about this part - to be certain i understood it correctly ........ plus the added part about the two schools is confusing - what view point do you think is correct
    – breath
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 5:32
  • No, that's not at all what I meant, sorry. What I meant is, like owner can't be lazy and sloppy and uncaring - because it's their own business - you have to develop the same quality of ownership and responsibility. Even at work. Before you can be an owner of your own business, you need to learn to take care of your boss's business as if it was your own. Think like an owner.
    – Andriy Volkov
    Commented Dec 4, 2015 at 12:44

Should i stop and just work without thinking about a better job / a private business?

Noone can answer that but yourself.

The aversion that arises from the current job can be used as a vehicle for developing insights.

Try to observe that aversion and learn about it, try to understand it. Pain, aversion, suffering is our greatest teachers. Try to be mindful on the job when you are standing up for long hours, maybe with pain in the legs. Observe the pain, observe the feelings in the legs and very important, observe the Mind and see how it reacts to these feelings and pain.

The problem arises when we identify with pain and feelings or with "our" job or career. You will see that the desire to change job is based on the aversion from this job.

Desires, aversions are conditioned phenomena, meaning that they are subject to birth and death. They are impermanent and will both change and fall away over time.

Mindfulness is one of the wholesome mental factors (cetasikas). When mindfulness is present it will be much easier to make decisions, since there are no "I, Me or Self" involved. Wholesome actions produce wholesome future results.


Mr/Mrs breath, maybe some words, taken from a Karaṇīya Metta-Sutta - Explanation are useful in this regard to understand it rightly, this modesty and striving issue (look for 7. Content (santussako)

To improve ones livelihood is actually very good if it is desired to follow as much as possible right livelihood. However, its great to make things by one self and amass wealth with one own power, effort and sweat is not wrong and even the only way to really be able to enjoy wealth. But today's businesses are not so easy to maintain righteous and in a righteous way so a modest job as even a small servant mostly gives more possibilities to practice the path relevant things.


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