stressful lifestyles/professions vs dharma/meditation.

Matheus Ribeiro de Assis, modified 6 Months ago at 9/22/22 5:44 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 9/22/22 5:42 PM

stressful lifestyles/professions vs dharma/meditation.

Posts: 21 Join Date: 1/23/22 Recent Posts
Today it has occurred too me that maybe I should become a programmer. The main reason is financial. But this made me question if this would be incompatible with awakening.

I know that programming is very stressful because you have to solve complicate problems daily and the kind of attention that you employ on the tasks is very abstract, I think this could interfere with mindfulness off the cushion wich in turn would hinder the vipassana training and the mind would always be very agitated. And for a plus, maybe all this stress would make the POI even more turbulent when doing strictly Vipassana.

Also, I have some hints that this might be the case, because I've heard Culadasa speaking about some students that couldn't do Jhana on retreat and after they left their jobs and went for another retreat, finally they get to Jhana very easily. And as in the case of Daniel Ingram, if you can read between the lines, it seems that the periods that he had the most trouble (in the practice as a general, not dark night stuff) and less insights was during emergency practice. There is even a recent podcast where he speaks of a moment that he had the insight that he should quit emergency practice. (Daniel, if you are reading this, correct me if I misunderstood your statements, please).

Awakening is my top priority now, so, what do you guys think? A stressful career or lifestyle can block awakening? If yes, is programming one of these?
Eric Abrahamsen, modified 6 Months ago at 9/22/22 9:32 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 9/22/22 9:32 PM

RE: stressful lifestyles/professions vs dharma/meditation.

Posts: 32 Join Date: 6/9/21 Recent Posts
Hi Matheus,

Interesting considerations! My first and probably most emphatic response would be that you're probably overthinking it, and would do best just to dive in and meditate.

That said, I recently transitioned from a "career" as a translator of Chinese fiction to software development, so might have some relevant experiences. First of all, the terrible financial anxiety caused by working in literature was far more disruptive, and I think harmful to practice, than anything programming might bring. Simply knowing that an ample paycheck would be arriving twice monthly instilled the kind of calm that usually takes at least two years on a snow-covered mountaintop to achieve emoticon

I'm sort of joking, but sort of serious.

As for the work itself... in my experience the most inimical thing to practice is the kind of work where you have to deal with people: management-type issues, human relations, negotiations, office politics, human tension, that sort of thing. These things demand a heightened sense of self in relation to other to do well, and I find it takes much longer to shed that state of mind and relax into a meditation session.

By contrast, programming is often solitary -- depends on the kind of job you've got -- and provides opportunity for "losing yourself" (in both the conventional and dharmic sense) in your task. I have certainly had times where a difficult problem nags me, like a song stuck in my head, and I have a hard time shaking it off after work. I find the solution always lies in the physical: getting out of the house, doing something with my body, exercise, a physical hobby, something of that sort. It doesn't take more than half an hour of whatever it is to quiet my mind.

It's important not to lose contact with your body in the first place. I've become very aware of a certain unpleasant hyper-focused state I get into, I think of it as "starey-eyes", where my gaze is locked on the monitor and there's a sort of static tension in my head and neck, and awareness of the rest of my body starts to fade. If I don't pull out of that I end up feeling gross and angry and disoriented, and that takes quite a bit longer to return to normal. It took me a while to build the habits necessary to avoid that state, mostly involving getting away from the computer every half-hour or so, and returning my awareness to my physical body.

That's some pretty un-mystical advice. I don't think you need to worry too much about a programming job.
K Linares, modified 6 Months ago at 9/23/22 4:32 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 9/23/22 4:32 AM

RE: stressful lifestyles/professions vs dharma/meditation.

Posts: 3 Join Date: 9/27/12 Recent Posts
I'm a "boss" at a TI department in Spain since 20 years ago.

Very estressful.

Karmic conditions are bad.

But I think that if you are able to cope with that, your progress is very, very solid, because bad future conditions wont affect you much.

So bad karmic conditions may slow you but if you can get over them, your situation will be very good, very solid.

On the contrary, people living very peacefully, when conditions change often see all falling like a card's castle.

But you hace to learn to stay calm where others get mad. I'm also a rock climber, maybe it helps. You're used to not stress under bad conditions.

Good luck

This very moment, modified 6 Months ago at 9/24/22 11:20 AM
Created 6 Months ago at 9/24/22 11:20 AM

RE: stressful lifestyles/professions vs dharma/meditation.

Posts: 71 Join Date: 7/6/17 Recent Posts
If depends.   If you practice with the view that emphasizes renunciation, then you will see whatever job you do as blocking your awakening.  Daniel quit ER medicine after he had been working for a long time and he wanted to transition into a career where he could potentially make a change to the system he was working in.  He developed a larger view of what he wanted to do with his time left.  ( At least that is my interpretation ) .   
You can awaken doing any job.  Figure out what you think suits your disposition and abilities, then go do that.   Then find the dharma teachings that allow you to practice as much as possible.  The job isn't a problem.  My 2 cents. 
Matheus Ribeiro de Assis, modified 6 Months ago at 9/26/22 9:35 PM
Created 6 Months ago at 9/26/22 9:35 PM

RE: stressful lifestyles/professions vs dharma/meditation.

Posts: 21 Join Date: 1/23/22 Recent Posts
Guys, I want to thank you very munch. excellent answers! You gave me some very interesting thoughts on the subject and now I'm even more optimistic on changing my career to programming. Thank you!