The Bliss of Business
Meditation in the Marketplace
by Chanchal Cabrera
hen I was asked to write this piece I was excited yet had some trepidation. I write a lot but always technical stuff that is relatively impersonal and factual. Would I be able to get thoughts and feelings down on paper? What did I have to say anyway? Then I realized that I really do have something to share with others because I have been practicing for years to be able to stay connected to the source while still operating in the corporate, capitalist world. I was 18 when I took sannyas and Poona One was just closing down. Osho gave me the name Puja Chanchal (Flowing Worship) and told me that my message was to learn to go with the flow, to laugh with the ups and downs and to never try to swim up the river. Osho also told us as we were going back to our countries to put into practice all the lessons he had being giving us. He encouraged us to "meditate in the marketplace," to find beauty and Godliness in everything we did.
I have carried those lessons onwards to today, trying to imbue all my tasks with love and always referring back to that still place inside as a steady reference point. If it gets harder to find my quietness then I know I am losing touch with myself and need to re-examine my activities and their purpose.
When I was a child my parents never told me that I had to go to university, get a certain type of job or fulfill any particular role in society. Equally, they never told me that I couldn't do anything, be anything that I wanted. They simply encouraged me to always strive to do my best, to never be satisfied with half-commitments, and to always occupy myself with things that contributed to well-being on all levels personal, familial, global. As an adult this has translated into a very strong work ethic and very high personal standards but has also meant that all of my energies have been directed towards some greater goal than merely meeting my own needs.
I believe that I have been incredibly lucky in my life to have found my passion, my cause célèbre, so young. I was raised on an organic farm by "back to the land" parents who encouraged me to develop a strong relationship to Nature and the natural world. Becoming an herbalist was a natural choice for me a simple evolution of all my scattered interests into one clear focus. It satisfies my intellectual inquiring mind, my emotional, intuitive mind, my desire to support ecologically/environmentally sound practices, my desire to help people, my need to be connected to the earth and, last but not least, my need to make a living for myself.
I have always felt an overwhelming need to give back. In real life what this means is that when I go to work, even though I may be tired or have a headache or just want a day off, I am also conscious of a real joy and pleasure in providing a needed service, a deep satisfaction with being able to make a positive difference in people's lives. For me this means appreciating each and every person who consults with me and loving them despite all their human foibles; it means noticing every green thing around me and thanking Mother Nature for providing it for our pleasure and betterment; it means sharing my knowledge and experience with as many people as possible through consulting, teaching, writing and my herbal shop. This doesn't mean that I never get tired, fed up, stressed-out or irritable. Of course I do, but I try to be very aware of these things and to notice from where they are arising. Why does this make me cross or sad or whatever? What is my investment in this emotion? Does my feeling this way help the situation or is it futile self-indulgence?
So how did I find bliss in my business? The real trick was to find what I really loved to do, that could satisfy me on all levels. I then set about figuring out how to make money doing it. Given that I lived in a society that operated by a certain set of rules that included the exchange of money, I needed to learn to use this form of energy to my advantage, just as I could learn to use other forms of energy such as physical strength or anger.
Money is not the "root of all evil"; it is what I do with money that generates evil or good. Knowing how to make money in such a way that I can make positive change in the world is the key to my satisfaction with my occupation. If I were not happy at work, if it didn't fulfill me, then I would be at war with myself. I would be in conflict at least eight hours a day and that would be hugely detrimental to my happiness; it would drain me and lessen my self-esteem. I wouldn't know what I should be doing. There would be struggle and confusion. Perhaps I might start to run from one job to the next, looking for satisfaction in the things around me because I didn't have it inside. I might try to find it next in relationships or children, still not seeing that as soon as I was back at work, I would re-enter the conflict.
My real joy arrived when what I loved to do became my work. Then money started to flow and I found peace inside even though I was working very hard.
I now work around 70 hours a week, seeing clients, developing ideas for the shop, running the herbal department of Coastal Mountain College, sitting on the board of directors of two herbal associations, preparing classes and teaching all over the world. I set my own timetable, only taking on those jobs which I most want to do, and I love it. There is nothing that I do that I don't want to do, although usually there are too many things I want to do at once! It is a gift, a great joy, to love my work, to have a vocation rather than a job.
When Abhi asked me to write this piece, my response was "What can I say? I don't do anything special, I just try to live every moment consciously and love it all" and his reply was "That's exactly what you should share, that's what it's all about."