Who do I work for? Bad grammar aside, it should be an easy question to answer. It’s something I’m asked in one way or another on most work days. In most situations, I’m able to give the acceptable answer: I just name my employer.
But this is no longer how I really feel.
I’m a believer in the sovereign power of the Universe. If you’re reading this, if this essay has found you, you probably believe this to some extent as well. Still, I don’t care to debate specific Universal characteristics. I prefer to keep it general and let the individual find their own relationship, their own adjectives. Suffice it to say that there is a Power. It’s accessible and made of deeper love than I can comprehend while I’m still ensconced in my (once glorious) meat suit. All I have to do is get out of my own way to merge with it.
That, right there, is all the “gospel” I need: The Gospel of Unity.
I said a few things there. I said, “merge.” I said, “accessible.” I said, “love.”
Let’s skip over how we “merge” with such a power for a second, and assume it’s possible. To start our discussion, I want you to say something with me. I want you to place your hand on your heart and say, “I am merged with the Universe.”
Don’t cheat. Say it aloud. I’ll wait.
Good work! (If you did it.)
The down side is that I know some of you didn’t quite believe it. Still, it was a good start, and our efforts don't have to be perfect because intention matters. Let’s continue with another little activity.
See yourself in a beautiful part of the world. It doesn’t have to be exotic. It can be in your favorite chair on a Sunday morning, for instance. Or by a river, or the ocean, or a forest. Can you see you, there? Breathe deep and stay with it.
Damn, you’re beautiful. Look at you! You don’t have a care in the world, do you? You aren’t afraid of anything on, in, or under the earth. In fact, you know Her, too – the Earth. And you know it’s all one; Earth and Sky, under and over, within and without, above and below. This version of you knows that all is One, and that this Unity includes yourself.
OK. Seeing this, seeing this beauty that is You sitting in complete serenity, in balance and equanimity, in love… there’s no way you’re going to wish harm on yourself, is there?
What? Absurd. I mean, what? Harm? What a ridiculous question, Marley. Yeah, I’m gonna jam a stick in my eye, like, for fun. Dumb question. Next.
The reason I ask is because I’m going to use the obvious response to make a point. When I do this same exercise, and I consider how much stress I often create in my own mind during my work days, there seems to be a huge disconnect between the dude I just saw in my mind, walking blissed-out in the Redwood forest, and what I experience in my day-to-day work life. My Soulful Eric self, “ridiculously beautiful” (spoken like Derek Zoolander), and my Stressed-out Salesman Self, barely seem related.
“What if I don’t sell this next appointment?” my workday self says, beginning to panic because of the self-defeating stories that want attention. I don’t even want to claim him, but I have to. I’ll call him,
If I look closely enough at Marleystress, I can see the anxiety begin to crawl out of his hairline. It moves down his face like a dark purple stain. It leaches down his skin into his shirt, and plunges its claws into his heart. That’s what it feels like, sometimes.
What I want to say to him is, “Don’t worry. Just go serve the people.”
My way of serving the people during my 9-5 is to come into their homes on pretense of selling them a furnace or air conditioner. Theirs broke, and I sell new ones. That's what it appears I'm doing, but I'm actually a spiritual superhero in disguise. So what I'm really up to, what my real job is, is to leave everyone I meet some love or hope or a smile, whatever they need, whether they buy or not.
But I have to make my boss happy by actually selling stuff or I won’t have a job, right? I don't get paid for making people feel loved. Not in dollars, anyway.
Here’s my answer and the point I wish to make. I don’t work for “them” - my boss, or "the company.
There is no “them.” There is, however, One. And I AM a part of that. (The caps are intentional.)
To further flesh out my point, let me have a conversation with good ol’ Marleystress. You can listen in.
“What? I’m busy. Go away.”
“Yeah, I can see you’re busy not breathing. I can see you’re busy worrying. I can see you’re throwing off a fear vibe that your potential customers can likely sense. That’s dumb. Be a good boy and take a few deep breaths, ok?”
(Glowers at me, but he deep breathes for 30 seconds or so.) “Ok. Now what?”
“Now, DJ Stressy Self, do you remember all those times tears came to your eyes when you realized you were held? I mean, capital-H Held, and unified with God? And at complete peace, untouchable because the Universe stood behind you like the biggest big brother you could ever have, in the face of anything?”
“Yeah, I remember,” Marleystress glumly replies.
“Do you really think that anything besides your fearful perspective has changed since that sweat lodge? Or that full-moon ceremony? Or that Sun Dance? Does the Universe ‘change its mind?’ Does it ever say, ‘damn that Marley, he’s way too peaceful?’”
“No. And didn’t you once, or many times, come to the deep realization that all aligns with you, when you align with The All?”
“Yes. That's happened a lot.”
“So… are you really going to worry about a sales call that didn’t close? Or about your boss?”
“Well, I have to eat.”
Now, let’s pause here. Marleystress said something pretty critical. “I have to eat,” he says. Do you think the Universe, of which Marley knows from experience he is a part, knows this?
Yes. Like, for sure.
So, as one who knows Unity, knows that this is the ultimate reality, and knowing from experience that Love is the fabric of Unity itself, is there anything at all to worry about?
Bam. I just lost half of you.
Why? Because immediately the mind wants to go to the past, where pain and failure live to tell their versions of the hit 1970’s TV show, “All the Bad Shit What Happened to Me.” In this TV series (available upon demand), we get to review all the disappointments in our lives and use them as excuses to experience pain once again.
Marleystress does this a lot.
He finds painful experiences from his past and uses the emotion from them as very poor fuel for his present moment, which is, of course, all he has. We’re not talking about healthy and helpful memories here. Not “hand on the burner” lessons that are tied to personal safety. More like the time I said to myself as a 13-year old, “I am going to publish a book on fishing in the Northwest.” Those kinds of failures. Those that came after massive expectations built without a proper foundation, using lumber that may as well have been dipped in kerosene for its flammability. Yes, there have been failures. And yes, some seemed out of the control of Mr. Marleystress.
He remembers that there have been times when he had nothing to eat except a can of stewed tomatoes and some rice. But there were critical lessons that were learned, weren’t there? Lessons that only that experience would provide. He tends to forget these because they're not featured as prominently on his TV show.
Now, 1000-plus words in, we’re getting somewhere. I’m glad you hung out, because here's the point all this is leading to: I don’t work for my employer. I work for the Universe on myself, which is the Universe, because we are One.
Please read that again. I’ll help.
I don’t work for my employer. I work for the Universe on myself, which is the Universe, because we are One.
My boss or employer, also part of the One, gives me the paycheck. If I don’t get those, I look for the lesson.
That’s it. There doesn’t have to be any more emotion behind it than that. Without the “poor me” story and the exhausting despair that comes with it, do you know what fills that space?
Do it, and find out. Find a failure that happened beyond your control in the career world. Something from left field that rocked your world. Dispose of the silly story behind it, even if it’s “true” (mostly a matter of perception), and see what enters that space.
A sense of curiosity, the doorway to all learning, just appeared before you. Walk though it. The light in that world looks a little different, doesn’t it? Creativity comes into play, the realm of spirit. Other possibilities besides, “That God He No Like Me,” or, “I Am Destined To Fail,” become visible. We might get to see our own behaviors in another light. We might see self-sabotage, another doorway into self-comprehension that often appears when we have feelings around worthiness and shame that we have not yet fully processed.
When we put into correct perspective our work lives, we see that careers are only a tool of consciousness; one measly yet important aspect. They’re unique in that there is literally a dollar amount assigned to the worth of a human. It matches the dollar amount that the work brings on the open market. Simple economics. But we also know, don't we, O Experiencer of Unity, that dollars alone are never the full story. Dollars are symbols, tools we use for trade, and our work lives are merely a component of our expansive reality.
Put another way, I use my lungs to breathe. I count on them to perform this function. If my body suffers for air because my breathing slows (I have personal experience with asthma), I am going to ask myself why, not fall into panic. Panic only makes it worse. Similarly, if my pay "slows," I am going to ask myself why, not fall into panic. Panic only makes it worse.
So, let’s go back to the conversation with Marleystress.
“Well,” he said, “I have to eat.”
“Yes, and at that time when you didn’t eat so well, what was your energy like? What were your habits? What karma was behind the choices you made just prior to being hungry? And, maybe most importantly, what great lessons did you learn when you went through that experience?”
“Man, I learned a lot,” Marleystress says.
“Like compassion for others who go through hunger and depression. Like an understanding that sometimes I quit too early, almost as a way to punish those in whom I invested trust, and they didn’t come through to my expectations; they weren’t fast enough. That time also became a doorway into my issues with shame. Those three come to mind almost immediately, and I know there are more.”
“Great! In other words, there were things you needed to see about yourself, and those bosses back there that didn’t pay so well were merely performing a function. And the function was to make you ask questions. It was to slow your financial breathing so you would feel enough discomfort to ask questions, right?”
This is the way it works because I don’t work for my boss, I work for the Universe. Again, since all is One, I AM the Universe (again, punctuation is intentional). Back in the days of stewed tomatoes and rice, I needed a lesson more than I needed a paycheck. And, since my REAL job is not “Selling,” but “Spiritual Growth” or “Refinement,” the lesson came that provided the opportunity for them. Now, Marleystress was not able to take the lesson at the time; he spiraled into depression. Why? Because he focused on the event and ignored the larger reality, which was… say it with me…
“I AM the Universe.”
Now, remember way back there when I talked about how to merge with the Universe? This is how.
You know what I didn’t mention? Accessibility. Of the three components of the Gospel of Unity, merging, love and accessibility, this is the easiest to explain. We access connection with the All by fully experiencing the present moment. Presence brings access, and the breath is the sacred portal to it. It's that simple.
We need to wrap this up, but I want to mention that we could talk about how we falsely view time as linear, and how this dramatically affects our ability to be fully present. Or we could chat about how we think we understand the nature of reality and know what is really going on here. None of us, including myself, fully understand either of these things. Our minds are not built for this kind of food… but our hearts can sense it. Either way, I guaran-fricking-TEE you it’s not what’s generally been taught in the West. Furthermore, it is far more along the lines of what I’ve presented here than can be found in any book of scripture.
Now that’s a bold claim.
Is it really, though? I submit that it is, only if you completely disregard thousands of years of teachings about the mystic nature of human experience. If you don’t know about this, I suggest you drop the Bible or whatever is occupying the "Nature of Reality" slot in your belief system and begin a journey along these lines forthwith. Email me if you want suggestions.
There are a couple other things that come into play with our work lives, in this culture. For instance, our bodies that we inhabit, our “meat suits,” want to live. Survival is a biological function. We can’t blame ourselves for being somewhat identified with physical survival. But the way we live is another story. This is where expectation comes into play, and expectation is suspect. This is because egoic wanting is the great incubator of unconscious expectation. And we all know that egoic want knows no bounds, only its own desire. It "expects" more (and more and more and more) all the time.
I could also talk about privilege. I am a white male living in the modern world. Hence, I was born into extreme privilege. I have more opportunities than almost anyone else who has ever lived, statistically speaking. This is both a blessing and a burden because, as above, expectation is incubated in the enclosure of egoic want. Now, not all want is egoic; I just pointed out that survival is also a want, but it’s strictly tied to our biology. Similarly, love can also create want. But the deep love I experience as a human also has a release mechanism that controls for things I cannot comprehend like the Universe, the potential releasing the object of my affection, and more.
It’s time for me to go to work (I write in the early mornings). I want to be on time because that's one way to show gratitude and honor my job, my superhero disguise, for the healthy component of my consciousness that it can be. My hope is that I’ll take these lessons with me. That I’ll go to serve, without identifying my personal worth with the outcome. That I won’t worry about my boss, as if he/they were the gatekeeper to my joy. After all, I don’t work for them.
I work for the Universe.