Shambhala Business and Livelihood Slogans

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Livelihood is a further expression of, and opportunity to practice the warrior path.

``You should relate to your sitting practice and your business deals the same way. The business deals we do and the business practice we do are, in our case, not disperate situations, but further adornment and further elaboration of our own dignity.''

``You could relate with your everyday life situation and with the economy, not as a burden or a promise, but out of a sense of duty from the point of view of the bodhisattva ideal. You could think in terms of providing resources for yourself and others....''

Basic decency is the starting point.

``There is no particular trick, even if the Buddha himself or Padmasambhava set up a business, there is no trick. We have to go along with the natural sense of economy that exists in the country, and with our own sense of sanity, which is worthy of being successful in business. . . There is no particular key. But if there were, the point would be some notion of decency. . . I believe very strongly that you cannot cheat the natural growth of the economy and the business world. That is trying to cheat the karmic flow.''

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Don't cheat anybody, including yourself.

Cheating anyone is, in fact, cheating ourselves. The mentality of getting away with something always creates problems in the long run.

``If we think that we can actually get away with anything, then our business is questionable. The first deal might be good, but the second deal is questionable.''

Be completely honest.

``Be direct, forceful, and tell the truth. It always works.''

``It is very, very important not to twist the logic of business ethics at all--then you feel better afterwards.''

``Honesty is the best wealth.''

Be genuine, gentle, and straightforward.

``Our trademark should be gentleness; don't borrow from past neuroses.''

When you lose your reference of the enlightened point of view, it is necessary to make the effort again to become inspired, rather than falling back into questionable habitual patterns.

Always keep your word: written or spoken.

While most people will agree that written contracts should be inviolate, speech is becoming degraded and devalued to the point where we don't listen to what we say and don't hear what others say. We should invoke the sacredness of speech by uniting our words and our intention.

As it says in the Shambhala Edict of Wholesome Human Conduct, ``Do not waver in repaying your debts on time.''

Don't cut corners.

Do things thoroughly. The ``result'' of our business activity lies in the process as well as in the immediate outcome.

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Treat everyone well.

This applies to your employer or employees, your clients, suppliers, and competitors.

``When there is more gentleness, kindness, and more willingness to share with others, that brings tremendous gratitude, nonaggression, and mother's milk (money).''

A good business deal is one that benefits everyone involved.

Giving in to greed may temporarily add to money, but in the longer term, it destroys relationships and good will and blocks the more fundamental wealth. In fact, any action that causes or arises from guilt or aggression cuts the synchronicity of body, speech, and mind and the connection to natural wealth.

Don't make money by cultivating other people's poverty mentality.

Don't pretend to have answers in order to take advantage of others' fear and gullibility.

Strive to use your material wealth to benefit others.

As it says in the Shambhala Edict of Wholesome Human Conduct, ``Possess only as much food and wealth as needed.''

Using wealth wisely depends on your connection to natural wealth. When we are not synchronized, we fall into the extremes of embarrassment or indulgence. When we are balanced, we understand how much we can handle and what is actually needed, rather than what seems to be needed.

Be willing to assume the responsibility of leadership.

If you are in a position of responsibility, ``you don't just run around being nice to people all the time, but you really have to rule.... It is very important to be a leader.'' This undertaking, in all its difficulty, is an act of generosity to others.

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Always follow through with communication.

As mentioned above, in the great onslaught of instantaneous communication that marks these times, the elegance and dignity of the process of exchange, the dance of listening and responding that acknowledges and respects the other, is becoming lost.

Be straightforward with those who work for you.

Tell people both their strengths and weaknesses. Don't avoid or complicate communication in order to protect yourself, but be straightforward; the less innuendo the better. This is very hard when it comes to problems, but is where bravery and compassion come in.

Be frank about the state of your business to those who need to know.

Be realistic about the risk of not paying money back, or about the risk to shareholders investing in your business. This makes you much more trustworthy. If you are experiencing troubles that could threaten the employment of people, let them know well ahead of time.


In general, listening is the necessary starting point of communication. In particular, make every effort to listen without bias to those who attempt to communicate with you.

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Cultivate and be loyal to your fellow workers.

Appreciate your colleagues as people. If you are an employer, don't fire employees until you have thoroughly attempted every other means to work with them. If you are an employee, don't quit without warning or provocation. In either case, abjure slander, complaint, and the harboring of resentment.

Create room for others to grow.

Delegate responsibility and empower others. If you are an employer, encourage employees to enjoy their work, as much as the budget can stand.

Encourage room for family and practice.

Don't drive your subordinates unreasonably; don't foster workaholism.
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Share your help, inspiration, and energy with other warriors.

``One of the ethics we have to actually hold on to, which is very important, is to treat our own people gently. It will have an ecological effect in the rest of the world as well.''

Our ability to help the larger world effectively starts with strengthening our own clan. We have much to offer each other. Family spats will naturally arise, but we should not let them become obstacles. The Dorje Dradül stressed numerous times how important it is for us, as a society of warriors, to work together, to support and challenge each other, and to generate the wealth to strengthen ourselves.

Contribute to your local community.

Strengthening our warrior community should not lead to ignoring the other communities that are part of our circulation system. As is said in the Shambhala Edict of Wholesome Human Conduct, ``Exert yourself for the welfare of neighbors and countrymen.''

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Continually practice and study the teachings; these are your guidelines.

Employers and those directly responsible for others have a particular responsibility to maintain and enhance their sanity. Particularly, everyone should continue to do their formal practices, and to work with understanding the principles of natural wealth and their worthiness, as a way to eradicate the seeds of poverty in themselves and others.

Constantly examine yourself.

Keeping a warrior's view and discipline in the business world, with its speed, neurosis, challenges, and seductions, is very difficult.

Cultivate craftsmanship in all you do.

This further cultivates the appreciation of sacredness in yourself and others, and appreciation of the dignity of work.

Don't deceive yourself in applying the guidelines.

Don't attempt to use scriptural excuses, such as ``outrageousness'' or ``inscrutability,'' to contravene the basic ethics. Don't use your business, profession, or talent to hide behind. Don't claim your profession as your sole practice in order to avoid working with the other teachings and practices that you have received.

Putting these guidelines into practice is a matter of individual insight, related to time, place, and circumstance. Motivation is the key.

``(Our) philosophy should not be based on capitalism, or for that matter, socialism. But some kind of individualism, based on practice, an understanding of the dharma, and some kind of genuineness, is appropriate.''

These precepts are guidelines for maintaining and cultivating mindfulness, awareness, and richness in the workplace. They are neither solutions nor strictures; their application is a matter of individual understanding.

The general approach is to do what you can, even in the smallest way. One never knows what effect it may have. At the same time that is not necessarily an excuse to go along with a corrupt status quo; the issue is to look for the appropriate way to bring a compassionate, awakened situation into being. In a given situation this may require tremendous patience--on the other hand it could involve direct, courageous immediate action. As long as the siutation is not clear, the advice is to slow down any impulse.

Use these slogans to remind yourself of the basic principles of natural wealth, decency, and humanity.

These slogans are ways to provoke further insight and awareness. They are not intended to serve as simple solutions to problems, but again and again to point out the ground of how to work further.

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©1995 The Shambhala Guild Society
Quotations by Chögyam Trungpa ©1978, 1979, 1981 Chögyam Trungpa.
All rights reserved. Used by permission of Diana J. Mukpo.

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