Book Review ‘Buddha at Work’: How to be zen at professional places

deccan chronicle  | Alfea Jamal

Life, More Features

Geetanjali Pandit’s Buddha at Work, is a semi-fictional account on how to find balance, purpose and happiness in the workplace.

Geetanjali Pandit’s Buddha at Work, is a semi-fictional account on how to find balance, purpose and happiness in the workplace. (Photo: Google books)

Buddhism has for thousands of years been associated with peace and tranquillity. It is the spiritual foundation for millions of people and is the fourth most practised religion in the world. However, is there anything on offer for those of us who don't practise the faith? 

According to Geetanjali Pandit's book, Buddha at Work, there is plenty.

We live in a dog-eat-dog world. The competitiveness and negativity from our demanding workplaces can get stressful and soon seep into our personal lives. And that is exactly where Pandit’s book provides valuable insights. 

It advices us on how to be our productive best -- be energized and positive at work, and how to manage stress and take control of our work life. 

There are also lessons on how to take the stress and negativity and channel it into something positive and productive.

Pandit explains in her book, that if we don’t have someone to guide us we must draw feedback from within. 

She writes: Consider, for example, the obstacles you are coming up against in your quest for a job. Once you have defined what stops you from landing that job (or being happy with it), the next step is to begin the process of changing it.

Exercise: Banish negativity

On this topic Geetanjali advices to sit alone in a quiet room, and with eyes closed breathe in and out deeply. 

She advises to imagine one’s negativity leaving the body with every exhaled breath, like a stream of darkness, and then imagining it suspended in the air and dissolving into nothingness.

While exhaling the negativity, imagine yourself inhaling in clean and crystal-clear calmness, like liquid gold. You must imagine this positivity come inside and transform you.

She advises to repeat the process until all the negative emotion is expelled. Having done this, I did feel this form of meditation very empowering and positive.

The book tackles all situations: difficult bosses, stubborn co-workers, getting rejected from a job interview (which you were pretty sure you'd get) and even getting fired. 

The author gives lessons in the form of conversations with Gautam (Buddha incarnate? Or just a man? Readers are left to wonder), mingled with stories from the Enlightened One’s life as well as real life stories involving people who faced tough times at work, including the author herself. 

Drawing from her personal experience as head of HR in some of India's best organisations, Pandit teaches us to tap into our consciousness and deal with challenging people and situations with good humour and calmness.

The author has beautifully woven in Siddhartha’s teachings of gratitude and appreciation into the stories and lessons that Buddha at Work portrays, in the process, presenting practical solutions to everyday problems.

Pandit’s book has wisdom for everyone. The book weaves in Buddhist philosophy through real-life incidents in trying to chronicle an ideal way of living life.

To quote Buddha, “No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

The book is published by Hachette Publishing India Pvt Ltd and priced at Rs 399.