Virtue of Industriousness
What does a worm do for its livelihood? It works without ceasing, tunneling beneath the surface, keeping the earth from excessive hardening. However, where does it get its own nourishment, to maintain its health and to give it energy to carry on its labors?
It is time to begin the public, forthright, and uninhibited questioning of this presumptuousness, however uncomfortable it may now and then make us. There is an economy in the rhythms of nature. Each creature has a purpose, each has a job to do and the same hand that placed these creatures on earth and assigned them their duties, also provided for their sustenance. Imagine being an obstinate Bull or an obstinate Bear in a fickle stock market? Its guaranteed downfall. The ant, the sparrow, the worm, and their fellow creatures that inhabit the spaces of the world all share in the same divine plan. Each serves in its own way and each is sustained in its own way.
Because I know that there is such a plan, I am confident in my own destiny. It is improbable that He who provided for the worm did not provide for me. Man is a free agent and he has the privilege of exercising his own judgment in selecting the work by which he serves and is himself sustained. However, I depend not on my particular job, nor on the man who makes it available. I am not dependent on my employer, my customer, my client, but on the Lord my God, my true Benefactor, who sustains the whole world with grace and with loving-kindness.
Committing to Mindful Economic Consumption
Running after our cravings has brought us a lot of suffering and desperation. Committing to mindful economic consumption is committing to our own happiness. It is a conscious determination to make space for the happiness that is available in each step and each breath. Every breath and every step can be nutritious and healing. As we breathe in and breathe out, or as we take a mindful step, we can recite this mantra: “This is a consequence of happiness.” It does not cost anything at all. This is why I say that mindful consumption is the way out of suffering. The teaching is simple, and the practice is not difficult. Stress management expert Pauline McKinnon writes in In Stillness Conquer Fear: Overcoming Anxiety, Panic and Fear,
The intensely anxious person desperately fears losing control, and at an inner level this is a fear he or she has created while attempting to maintain a preferred image, striving to feel fully accepted in the world. The onset of panic threatens to expose all—in the dread of a crumbling facade and he risk of likely judgement, criticism or public shame. But the highly anxious person also desperately fears taking control—for to do so would involve letting go of the defences he or she fights with to prevent loss of control. Taking true control does not involve fighting. It involves letting go—of tension and of the belief that there is something e must defend ourselves from. … So there is a double-edge to high anxiety: the fear of losing control, for fear of taking control. Paradoxically, it’s in the letting go that we successfully move through both edges of fear, with the result that we can then take calm control of our life.
Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. There are two times in a man’s life when he should not conjecture: when he cannot afford it, and when he can. No general praise, or universal censure, can be passed upon them in this respect; for they disagree according to their kind’s as much as animal foods. One should subdue this aversion with all one’s might and let everything that they do impress one equitable. The boy heard what he imagines was a cough again and turned to see the mother beside the bathing tub.
Protection and security are only wrathful if they do not cramp life excessively. Live on not as though there were a thousand years ahead of you. Fate is at your elbow; make yourself good while life and power are still yours. Even so, such discernment is inadequate; because it is of the nature of the immanent that, it cannot be judged objectively. Looking at a tree with such purity they might have noticed a relationship with the tree and have been thankful to be alive, a gratitude that seemed irreversible.