Namo Buddhaya.

For my survival I work but I do not like the work. I am always thinking of escaping it. But if I escape from it then how will I eat ? It is my only source of income.

My question is : Should I do what I don't want to do especially if it is required for survival ?

Should I start clinging to my work ? Or Should I start loving my work? If I should start loving my work then will it not automatically create clinging to the work ? In other words will I not miss the work when the work is gone ?

7 Answers 7


As my teacher explained, living with the feeling of wrongness is the very essence of samsara.

This constant feeling that you don't like your work, don't want to do it, and are forced to endure it only for survival - is NOT a normal condition. You should not force yourself to live like this year after year after year.

When you have inner conflict, you don't live your life authentically - and because of that non-authentic living you keep creating and maintaining situations that force you to maintain that inner conflict. This works like a vicious circle!

To quit this job in the hope of finding a better job is not an answer. My teacher called that "The Hunting-Dog Mind" (chasing after birds). Simply changing jobs will not help -- as long as you still have inner conflict, your mind will keep recreating pathological situations anywhere you go. Instead, the answer is to remove the inner conflict and learn to live authentic life, to be truly yourself. When you are truly yourself, the actions you choose, your reactions with people, etc. they all create your own path step by step - that may take you to a different job or connect you with entirely different people etc. And because every step of this path is made authentically and without inner conflict, it does not lead to new inner conflict - it leads to maintenance and development of inner peace and strength.

The main exercise to remove inner conflict is meditation. When we meditate we connect with our true nature, beyond attachments, thoughts, and judgements that we picked up during the course of our life. Of course, there is also the foundation of basic sila - five precepts, ten parami and so on - because we can't be authentic and spontaneous until we have eliminated major sources of conflict like the lust for material pleasures, for fame, for success, all kinds of overgeneralizations, identifications, side-taking, and hatred based on that, the defensiveness of the ego and so on. So the function of sila is to remove the gross source of conflict. And then the function of meditation is to remove subtle conflict.

Once we reduced inner conflict enough, we must start practicing authentic living in our daily life. This is a somewhat scary moment - because we should build up enough courage to be true to ourselves even if our new behavior can completely change our life situation. For example, we may end up quitting our family or our job. Or we will stay in our family and/or job, but we will stop tolerating certain things that we always hated, and will openly talk about them with other people (with wisdom and tact, assuming we worked on our sila and meditation). Or we may accept everything as is, because we may realize that our rebellion was only due to attachment to some mental image. Or we accept some things, confront others, and abandon third. In any case, authentic living means being true to ourselves and living without inner conflict.

This authentic living without inner conflict is understood by (some) Zen and Vajrayana schools to be the real essence of Buddhist liberation.

  • 2
    This is a beautiful answer. In order to appreciate it I had to reread it after reading about mindfulness and meditation. Commented May 22, 2018 at 10:13

You don't have to love or hate your work. If happiness arises while at work, be mindful of it and if aversion arises while at work, be mindful of that too.


Feeling happiness and bliss with a job is good for the mind, body, and heart.

However, to generate this, it is not needed to attach to it.

For example, the 1st jhana is filled with bliss, joy, and one-pointedness. However, this was not arrived at by attachment but by proper focus.

No job however is always happy. Therefore try to be aware of the suffering and maintain the equanimity and onepointedness, cultivating jhanic factors through your job or any activity for that matter.


I have the very same feeling. Also, I work in the IT field and there were many times I have felt like I should be living in a forest or at least doing a more human-related job like social work/ nursing/ caretaker, etc. However, recently I have realized that being patient while living in the moment is the key. For example, when I am at work and think of living in the forest was the problem. I am slowly training myself to stop that and live in the right moment having a neutral mind without worrying. If there is anything that should happen, it will happen at the right time...


Work is merely part of life, not all of it. Recognize that this current society is ruled by people who designed money, material, etc...which is why we have to work for money to ensure a certain quality of life and 'keep the wheel rolling'. Remember, work is merely a tool for income to support life.

Instead of hating work, it is better to think of how you could spend your life and make it meaningful ! Through work and your job, it is merely your stepping stone to achieve a higher goal.

Putting Buddhism teachings aside, a common reason why people do not like their job is mostly because of the people and work nature. Think about what's causing the trouble, and make suitable solutions for it.


See your body as a donkey in service of you to attain a higher goal.

Yes, you have to work for survival, but the question is why are you surviving? are you surviving just to note the happiness and hate of the donkey? or are you surveying to approve the authenticity of the donkey's work?

You should survive to trade your way out of samsara. Don't waste too much time entertaining the donkey asking question what your donkey like or not like. Just use your body as you would use a donkey to fetch water.

  • Interesting. But is there any scriptural reference to the simile ? Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 13:50

You can consider mendicancy. But, one can also cling to mendicancy. What can I offer that cannot be clung to?

  • Abandoning that which is not mine will definitely lead to happiness. But that doesn't seem to be a practical advice as I am still not clearly comprehending the meaning of Anatta. Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 8:02
  • How can you know what route will lead to happiness when happiness is the manner in which you travel the route? Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 17:07
  • That sounds like fakebuddhaquotes.com/…
    – ChrisW
    Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 17:25
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    @ChrisW Apologies. I never intended to imply I was quoting anyone. It is however, similar to the Thich Nhat Hanh quote, “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way.” Commented Mar 21, 2018 at 18:47

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