This book is a masterpiece on spirituality. I mean spirituality that is relevant and spiritualtiy that matters. I am an ex-IBMer myself and have been in meditation for many years. This book was the missing link in my understanding of spiritual life and professional life in an integrated whole, as varying expressions of the same grand idea that the soul sometimes knows intuitively but can't easily express.
The spirituality that is relevant has to be expressed in one's works. If we can't exercise spirituality in work, we have defeated God's purpose in our creation . Les Kaye refers to God as "Big Mind" and states all that we do has to be expression of this "Big Mind". The work-ethic that flows out of its integration with the "Big Mind" neither leads to boredom, nor to anxiety. Your work becomes your meditation, your prayer, your liturgy!
Though there is nothing new in this idea. It has been taught in many cultures. The Hindu doctrine of "Karma Yoga" ("yoga of action") , as taught in "Bhagvad Gita" , is perhaps the most comprehensive classical treatise on the idea of "Zen at Work". Similarly , many Sufis Masters in Islam have tried to teach the same idea. In Christianity, we have the writing of Brother Lawrence about practising the "presence of God" in our mundane work. So although "Zen at Work", is essentially a Buddhist idea, it does find echo in other spiritual teachings.
But what gives force to this book is not the originality of the idea, but the originality of the interpetation of this idea in the contemporary corporate milieu, enriched by author's own life long experience at the Big Blue. We are the instruments of God, the "Big Mind", for his sacred task of creation. Creator is creating with us and through us. If our sprituality comes in the way of this divine task of creation, for whatever reason, then obviously we have betrayed the spiritual purpose that we were created with. This is a vital idea that all serious spiritualists/meditators need to grasp. Spirituality that makes us hide from our 'worldly' responsibilities is a false spirituality. If you have absorbed spirituality properly, then the falseness of dichotomy between 'spiritual' and 'worldly' immediately becomes clear. Both are in reality expressions of each other, when rightly understood.
Zen at Work teaches us how to make ourselves the intruments of the Divine Creator, by removing our ego from the way, so that the "Big Mind" expresses its peace, harmony and majesty through us. Let go of the 'small mind', i.e. ego, so that the "Big Mind" flows spontaneously through us. This is the kernel of this great book. When we let the "Big Mind" express through us, then all our worries, anxieties and boredom - that are sometime natural products of our unfeeling capitalist evironment- also disappear. The work , however mundane and tedious, becomes an expression of union with the divine. The 'hot Buddha', the 'cold Buddha', the 'home Buddha', the 'temple Buddha'...,and yes, the "WORK Buddha'!
Thank you Les Kaye for this "great gift" from the "Big Mind".