Your work is to find out what your work should be and not to neglect it for another’s. Clearly discover your work and attend to it with all your heart. (Dhammapada, v. 166)
I found this Buddha quote in a book yesterday. Went online to copy it for this blog and found that it is not an accurate quote. Turns out a better translation is:
Don’t sacrifice your own welfare
for that of another,
no matter how great.
Realizing your own true welfare,
be intent on just that.
So at first, I thought, ‘OK. Next idea! This doesn’t fit what I’m looking for’. Today, however, I started thinking about the relationship of work and welfare. How do I make sure my work is for my welfare and the welfare of others? How do I make sure my work makes me well! What if I phrased the first line as, ‘take care of myself so I can be of service to others’? Well if I look at it that way, this is really telling me about aligning myself with my own purpose, seeking to be of service to myself first and then to others. If I am not to sacrifice my purpose for that of another, no matter how great, then I am working from my integrity for the highest good of all. I think the last line is telling me that by finding my own unique work in alignment with my purpose, that is enough. Just That!
So maybe the first translation wasn’t so ‘wrong’ after all.