Morality, Professions and Spiritual practice
Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai
Washington D.C., U.S.A.
December 23, 1997 (Originally in English)
Q: I have a dilemma and it's between me, who I am, and my profession. I'm a lawyer; I represent large companies and corporations. The people we sue are oftentimes injured, either physically or even in some cases, someone has died, and my job is to make it so that the company doesn't pay any money. The dilemma that I have is that many times I look back on what is a success professionally, but for myself is troublesome because I feel like on many occasions there are people that deserved to have received some sort of payment and didn't because of my actions. I am quite troubled by that and I was wondering if you could lend me some comfort.
M: You are not the only one who has this question. Well, either you have to do it the way that the company wants because you are paid for it, or quit and get your own office. A lawyer often has to do things that he knows are not proper, and if he does it too often, then he may forget that it is not proper, and it becomes a habit. Therefore, it is up to you to do it the way you want, or to do it the way the world wants. You choose between your conscience and your payment and fame. Did you watch the movies, "The Devil's Advocate" and "The Rain Maker"?
They are similar. Go watch them and then you will have your own answer. There are many other jobs to do. Also, you can teach in law school, or is that also in terms of breeding other lawyers? [Laughter] A lot of people feel the same way as you do because they started out very idealistic as newborn lawyers. They wanted to fight for justice and to defend the weak and needy, but then situations forced them into doing the opposite. Many times, they come home and do not feel very good; they don't feel the money they earned is entirely clean. I don't know if there are other choices for lawyers or not. Maybe you can open your own corporation, but there is so much competition.
It is very difficult to be successful in this world and to keep our standard at the same time. It is up to you to choose your way of life; I cannot tell you what to do. As long as you are paid by the company to defend for it, you have done a good job. That is what you are paid for, and you are faithful and loyal to your company. No one can blame you for that.
On the other hand, your conscience will tell you that that poor employee has nothing left. After he dies or has an accident, his life is finished, his family's future is darkened, and your conscience will not rest. That is the problem, and not that you are wrong or the person is right. It has nothing to do with that. As far as your job is concerned, you have done excellently. That is what you have to do because you are paid to do it. You have done well, but it is up to you now to choose between being a successful lawyer and a conscientious human being.
There are other jobs to do, like selling tofu [Laughter] or delivering pizza. The problem with us is that once we climb the ladder of success, it is very difficult to stop there or climb down. But it's very easy once you renounce inside your heart, knowing that a clean conscience and peace of mind are worth every piece of gold in this world, and then you can decide.
We don't have to live in Beverly Hills; we don't have to live on Capitol Hill. We can live in a mobile home, which is very cheap. A secondhand mobile home costs about $15,000 or $20,000 or sometimes even five or ten thousand dollars. You don't have much to clean, and you don't need servants once a month or once a week. That's what I do; I am living in a mobile home right now, and you can laugh at me if you like. I can afford more than that, but at the moment, it's not necessary. If I had a bigger house, then I would have to depend on a lot of people for cleaning, mowing the lawn, and all that. There are many unnecessary expenses. It is a privilege and prestigious to live in a big house, to have a name-brand car and all that if you can afford it. If you cannot, a secondhand car will do and a mobile home will be fine.
You will feel very happy when you don't have debts to pay, when you don't have anyone that blames you, and you don't blame yourself for any wrongdoing. That is the best "mansion" that you can ever have for yourself - peace of mind and a clear conscience. That is why many Masters tell you to forsake the world in order to gain heaven. Whoever clings to life will lose it. Whoever forsakes life will find eternal life. [Matt 16:25] That is the meaning of it.
We are too bound to material comforts and "musts, do's, and don'ts," and we forget to liberate ourselves from all this; we don't need all that. We don't need to go to Beverly Hills to parties; we can forsake them all. We can leave all the friends that are posh and rich, and make us feel competitive and as if we have to be forever climbing to be like them. After awhile you are tired of parties, big friends, names, and all that, and you just like to stay at home in your own room, even a small room would be fine. You just meditate and you feel so good inside; you do not need any material things to show off, and then any job will do. We don't depend on jobs; we don't depend on fame and prestige to live our lives. We depend on God; we depend on inner tranquility and a clear conscience. That is why Jesus said, Blessed are the pure in spirit for they shall know God. [Matt 5:8] You have to become like a child in order to enter the Kingdom. That's what it is.
We cannot become like a child if we forever have to strive to be like next door. To go to this and that party because so many names are there, we have to be someone also or else we are no one, and we cannot go there; we feel ashamed. We should not feel ashamed. We should feel ashamed if we do something against God's will. If we are not a morally equipped person, if we are not conscientiously noble, then we should feel ashamed.
We never should feel ashamed if we lack material means, if we in live a humble house, or have a secondhand car. That is what binds a lot of people and makes them stick to a position and work against their own conscience and will. They suffer so much internally, all the gold in the world cannot make up for it. Then they will feel sick, and later all the sickness will boil up into cancer and those kinds of things. It's not worth it. I am just telling people what binds them and how to liberate themselves. Money is poison. It poisons many people and damages a lot of good persons with its fame and illusionary prestige.