Over time, practice became central to helping me understand and resolve this conflict—it helped me develop an awareness of my own reactions to differences and allowed me to see the internal logic and processes I was using—processes that occurred in a fraction of a second. By clearly seeing an ineffective process or a chain of misconceptions unfold in my mind, I was better able stop the process and not incorrectly conclude there was an ethical conflict at play. For me, the ability to see, control and stop my own mental leaps was hugely valuable for both my work and spiritual practice—common ground!
With continued practice in an area that was initially very uncomfortable, I began to see how my emotions of dissonance, disillusionment, or frustration were manifestations of the poison of anger. This is not to say that they disappeared, but that I recognized them and their basic ineffectiveness.
In addition to studying my own mind, reactions, and ways of relating to the world, my work responsibilities also gave me opportunities to practice Right Action and Dana Paramita—whether by sponsoring diversity groups, supporting environmental sustainability and community safety, or by participating in community-based outreach activities. Aside from my own direct involvement, I actively and visibly supported what I felt were other right-action initiatives within the company.
Thus, over a long time, I found there was a lot of opportunity in the business setting to make a difference, and to contribute in ways very much aligned with my vows. I was able to use all of the work experience—resonant and dissonant—in a positive way. Although it took a lot of effort to see it, work ultimately became a practice field no different from any other part of my life, a place where I was able to respond to the call of the precepts.
Rick Shinsui Bowles, MRO