Policies of Work

I was looking in a notebook on my computer and reviewing some of my personal policies and principles of work.
They have changed over the years. I have spent a lot of years in manufacturing and production, and I really beat my body (and mind) up when I was young. “Being a good worker” has always been important to me. That has never changed. But as I have aged I have learned to be more efficient in regard to staying healthy and happy.

Here is a rough list of policies I practice…. some policies from Zen and Permaculture Design writers that I have incorporated into my strategies and tactics of everday work:

Be practical

  • do what works… experience is useful.


Wu wei

  • no action, effort or thinking beyond whats needed. (wu wei)


Bring the right attitude:

  • keep a “beginners mind“- Suzuki Shōsan.
  • Be confident, unassuming, mindful(observant) and playful (experimental).


Be ergonomic and efficient.

  • understanding my body and my environment while at work.
  • always remember good posture and movement.
  • always use as little stresses on my body/mind as possible: See Wu Wei.
  • create good structures and workstations (e.g use a surface tall enough when working on it)
  • Use the correct tool the correct way. ( more on ergonomics)


Use everyday science

  • use my understandings of leverage, thermodynamics, rates, even saturation (I am pretty damn good and fast at mopping floors with only hot water :) ), gravity and other forces


K.I.S.S or Keep it Simple [,Stupid]

  • make small changes for the greater benefit.
  • it is much easier understand the changes (including costs and consequences) of a tweak,change or experiment when it is uncomplicated


Know the players of the playground

  • heh-heh. This one might seem to contradict the previous policy a bit, but it calls for a little balance. One thing I have learned is people, coworker’s that is, do bring their personalities to work with them. Know what a boss expects out me, and know what my coworkers want out of their day at work. Just like back in school, there are followers, there are there are the Kings and Queens. Work life is alot easier if one pays attention to this.
  • In Short: don’t step on toes, inadvertently; and acknowledge coworkers existence and place… usually as simple as a smile and ‘good-morning’.


“The problem is the solution”

  • Quote from Bill Mollison. Use difficulties to positive means


the standard of Quality is the conformance to Zero defects.

  • this policy only works in producing goods of the same kind (such as assembly line production)…It was one I used in my twenties at work. Personally I do not care for any universal or “standard” policies of quality or conformity when dealing with people, animals, organisms, communities or ecosystems. Thus, this old policy of mine may get thrown out.


Be Ethical.

  • practice reciprocity, remain dignified and respect others.
  • practice my primary cares: Care of people, Care of Earth, my primary concern of mental wellness


the policy of responsibility of authority

  • “The role of beneficial authority is to return function and responsibility to a system or people.
    If successful no further authority is needed”. from Bill Mollison’s Permaculture.
  • in my words: encourage self-sustainability in others… environment and other people.(See me poem!)


I hope to get old gracefully,with less pain and fatigue, and with good productivity.
May you do the same.



Compassion is the understanding of others, with the cultivated awareness of suffering.    Perhaps  more  accurately,    Compassion is empathy with the awareness of suffering.

The western concept of “empathy“, popular in the writings of twentieth century humanists, philosophers and psychologist has its own active verb tense. “to empathize” or “empathizing“. compassion does not have a verb tense in English… perhaps ” to sympathize“… but I will stick with Compassion, here.

To empathize is to imagine another’s experience,  compare that experience with his/hers and to be affected.   One empathizes with another person(s), organism(s) and their circumstance. It should be noted, that from a stand point of certain schools of thought,as in Zen Buddhism, Humanistic Psychology and existential- phenomenology, an organism is always considered with his circumstances. One is always interacting, affecting and being affected by his environment . This is “experience”, the participation of an organism in its world. “Phenomenology” is big ugly word for the study of experience(s), from subjective lenses.    “Empathizing”, is being affected by and imagining another(s) experience(s).

Another overlapping concept is “perspective-taking“. “Perspective taking” is imagining another’s experience and world-view.   Perspective-taking is objective and rational in method; and deliberate in avoiding any emotional affect and judgments.    To take another’s point-of-view and study while holding back any personal bias and presumption would be perspective taking. (see also Husserl’s bracketing or epoche`)
Is it at all possible to remove all bias?    Some psychologists argue that perspective taking is a primitive form of empathizing .

Alfie Cohen, Author of “Brighter Side of Human Nature“…… poses another  phenomenological approach to empathy that he calls “feeling-into“. To “feel-into” another’s circumstance, personal happenings, gestalt or being-in-this-world. Feeling-into is an full cognitive investigation of another’s subjective experience.

Back to Compassion

I do believe that there are people who can empathize or feel-into another’s situation without compassion.
A study of the psychopathology of some dangerous criminals might support my claim.   For example: there are a few who feel powerful or aroused when they imagine themselves as the victims of their violent attacks. in this case there is empathy and perspective taking, for pathological pleasure, but no compassion.

To act with compassion is to act and empathize, while recognizing and considering suffering. To act with compassion is to act and be affected by the suffering of others.

Understanding suffering is at the core of any study, religion, or way-of-being that is called Buddhism.  Thus compassion is a much talked about subject-matter . Understanding the nature of suffering is fundamental to Buddhist practice.
Note below a translation of the four Noble Truths of Buddhism

Four Nobel Truths of Buddhism .

  • Suffering Exists in Life
  • The Source of Suffering is attachment
  • The Emancipation of Suffering is attainable
  • The Path or the “Eightfold Path” (wisdom, conduct, development)

In Christianity, (at least from my non-religious outsider’s stand appointment), A great deal of importance is placed on the suffering of Jesus at the end of his days. In interpretations,   God seeks to empathize with man in the Life and times of Jesus. Followers seek to understand God in part by empathizing with the life and Crucifixion of Jesus. The very important Christian theme of Redemption is tied to suffering and compassion just as it is the teachings of Jesus, in the “Sermon on the Mount“.

Compassion is care for others. What can, at times, be overshadowed is the care for ones own well-being.   IMHO: It is important to act in the same compassionate manner for his or herself, as he does for others.   Just as important as anything written here:    The care and wellbeing of one’s self and others includes happiness, pleasure, curiosity and a spectrum of experiences…. not just suffering.

Compassion maybe a cornerstone of ethics along with self- esteem and reciprocity. If we truly love and esteem ourselves (that is, our being) ;    If we treat each other in the manner we wish to be treated, then we may presume that no one likes pain and suffering.   We’d care for ourselves and others, and act accordingly— rich in understanding perspectives beyond our own.
It would be unethical to deliberatively harm another (or one’s own being) that we have compassion and care for.

Workday Ergonomics (revision)

Revised posted
Workday Ergonomics, Floating and Flighting
was originally posted on 3-23-2009


A  kayaker    is paddling on a fast current river.   If he paddles up stream he requires much more energy to over come the resistance.  He is fighting river current.  If kayaker paddles turns his boat to move with the current.   He requires little resistance and can move easily with the current. He is floating with the river current.
Fighting and floating.

In industrial jobs,   a worker is often required to heavy repetitive work.
I have often explain to the younger workers around me how to “float” in their job and not “fight”. It good to challenge ones self at a job, but over long periods of time,  one is better  off working with bodily efficiency , moving smoothly with as little resistance as possible.

Some of the young guys will pick up huge loads of material to load  machine. and ram it into the machine.they have to load them all day. They are fatigued and sweaty at the end of the work day. Sometimes displeased even though they put in a good workday.

I have encourage  them to:

  • think of their body as a smooth gliding machine
  • experiment and  be conscious of the feeling in their joints when lifting did size loads
  • see what lifting load size creates the least  fatigue on their joints per lift.
  • Be conscious of their breathing, hip back and arm posture
  • Take advantage of gravity and the physics around them
  • ultimately think of themselves as part of the whole machine process.
  • Float more than fight.

Of course, most young guys are like I was, at there age, they tend not listen to the advice of older guys. (I wish I would have listen to the advice of older guys, when I was younger… my body creaks with arthritis today)

Unnecessary resistance, stress… “Fighting” can have an accumulating effect over along period of and can affect overall health and happiness…
In any career  office job, Farming job, or industrial job.

One major Field of study  in industry and engineering is  “Ergonomics“.

Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace conditions and job demands to the capabilities of the working population. Effective and successful “fits” assure high productivity, avoidance of illness and injury risks, and increased satisfaction among the workforce.
In industry, Ergonomics is the discipline  of  engineering  the work place and work  equipment to suit the needs of the worker.

cite – OSHA  http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/ergonomics/

Some examples of Ergonomics:

  • computer keyboards that are easier on the users wrists
  • Desk chairs design for posture
  • jack lifts that make unloading loads from skids easier on the back.
  • Brighter lights in a work area which help with both vision and moral.
  • Teaching workers to move safely and efficiently (eg. lift loads  with with legs while your back straight)



The idea is to make the worker/work place more efficient and healthy and therefor more productive. In Ergonomics, the worker is always in mind in designing.
Personally I think you can  include mental activity in applying ergonomics.  limiting unimportant distractions and focusing on the task at hand, avoiding multitasking  to limit fatigue,  keeping a work area well-lit and esthetically pleasing to encourage a happier energetic mood.

In my work day, I make the “Work Station”, “work process” and me fit together as one…as much as I possibly can.

What I’ve learned over the years, when I leave my work day: less fatigued and more confident… I enjoy my life outside of work more, as well.
The next day I wake up and enjoy going to work. over the long all  I happier and healthier.

Learn to Float  more than fight!
If you enjoyed this article, please check out  Wu Wei and moving with the flow.

Wu Wei and “moving with the flow” –reposted

Wu Wei and “moving with the flow” was origionally posted on 3-24-2011

There are  a couple distinctions in  Taoist philosophy::

The Subjective: The way people interpret and describe the way things happen.

The Tao: the way things, or Nature, truly happen, which transcends human description.

A person’s reaction to “the way things happen” influences how he/she internalizes the way things happen.

great discrepancy between:

  • the way nature happens(or Tao), and
  • how a person internalizes the way things happens,

…can lead to stresses, and chaos.

According to Taoism , no person can fully know the Tao, The universe, nature’s forces  and  ways of change… because the Tao transcend human senses, full rational dissection, and full description. (thus the “Tao is Nameless” other than “Tao”)

However. Taoism’s practice is interpreting, behaving(or not behaving), interacting, or patterning more and more with the way nature happens as it becomes more apparent to the person.

That is:  Move , work with, or flow with Nature, Act in Harmony with Tao and one will experience less stress and chaos and one will experience more happiness.

Wu Wei

Wu Wei is the principle of “No Action”. More Accurately, its defined as abstaining from excessive effort and excessive action beyond the way a situation naturally happens..

If person canoing upon a river is paddling against, or across the current, he must exert a lot of energy. If the person turns his boat and point to move with the river’s current, he may need no action. He moves along effortlessly with the current., as the river “happens”.
Think  of the river current as a metaphor of how nature changes or flows. In Practicing Wu Wei one uses his experientially refined ability to recognize the way nature flows, and moves with it
Go with the Flow. Action in Harmony with the Tao and no action beyond that.
This is Wu Wei

Wu Wei in our modern world:

  • If a person worryies too often  about things that are not important to  his present moment; or is  multitasking;or he is uses more effort and then situation needs, the resulting effect may be stress and fatigue.
  • A production worker may find he is more productive and happier outside of work, If he uses body in more natural positions of lifting, ergonomics, and works with ways that require less noneffective effort.
  • Permaculture designers create ecological garden and agriculture designs, that pattern nature and use of Wu Wei, resulting in relatively self  or long sustaining  systems of produce.

A person may increase ones capacity of authenticity, harmony or integrity of his internal way with the natural Way or Tao, by meditating: the witnessing the two-as-one, briefly . Others studies, are  Yoga, Tai -chi, or just taking walks.

From there they may be inclined  apply Wu Wei in what ever action or non-action they do.

As for the distinction of the “subjective” and the “Tao”, they may move together harmoniously.


In the ancient philosophy of Taoism,


Te flower.jpg
Te (Teh) is Virtue:  or  the personal truth and strength that one cultivates. It describes the way one cultivates himself and harmonizes with Tao.

Tao is defined as constancy and way all flows. I like to think of the word “Tao” as a default word to describe the totality of all the principles that govern physics, except that Tao, by definition… is mystical and lies beyond man’s  scope of knowledge.
Taoism is holistic. So Te is more than just intellectualizing ethics or a list of values. Te is acting (or idling) with character, being with ethics, being with authenticity, and being in manners that harmonize with Tao. Te applies to the person or organism as it lives in connection and integration with Nature or “the world”. Te is a quality.

If there is really a difference between wisdom, integrity and Te, I really don’t know.  Maybe it is cultivated and refined by the Authentic Experience that  Søren Kierkegaard    spoke of centuries after Lao Tzu, in other parts of the world.
perhaps its a universal concept and concern..

Here and Now, Revisited

I say “I have a memory” – I am remembering.
I say “I will take a walk”. -I am anticipating when ‘I am walking’.
I say “I had a conversation” – I am remembering when I was conversing.
I have a thought and a emotion. – I think, feel, and cognate.
When I read the paper about what is happening over there. I am reading right here.

remembering, walking, anticipating, conversing, reading … thinking, feeling, cognating, acting, doing, being and interacting, saying. — all happen in the Here and Now. The poetic license of of English Language can confuse us at times, but we happen in the here & now.

Here and Now Post – reposted:

From our first person point of view, what is happening is always in the present time.
What we think and feel about the future; the past; or somewhere else is actually taken place in real time where we are.

I am not saying that nothing is happening elsewhere other than where i am.

Its the here/now lenses that i perceive the future; past; and far away that is happening in the here and now.

Our thinking mind allows us to reevaluate the past; anticipate the future ;make rational judgments on whats happening elsewhere.

This all fine and healthy. along as we realize that all are feelings are of the moment towards the formulated thoughts in our heads of the past, future and elsewhere.
If we forget this realization we can fill are lives with unnecessary, guilt, inhibition, angst and arrogance.

Zen meditation brings me to real time sensing. Simplifying. I can allow my self to let go of the unnecessary baggage and clutter of my cognitions. I learn through living, by experience . with full body in the here and now.

previously posted Pennsylvania Echoes:here and now

A definition of being (or Zen true self) includes the present action (including doing and cognating) of a subject (eg. a person or organism). I am walking… I am remembering… I am talking…, I am anticipating…
The “Here and Now” is the  circumstance. It is that meeting place joining being to the always changing world.

Planting Potatoes and Paternal Wisdom

Without the daily prescribed medication: I would lose my ability to think rationally, and my attention span would dwindle to nothing, my body would creep into overdrive. I could feel this at the end of a work day as the medicine wore off and it scared me every day. Without the medication I could become more and more manic, eventually I would have to be hospitalize or worse… risk being incarcerated in prison.

This was one of the new realities of “Bipolar Disorder“. I was in my late twenties and just diagnosed . and there is more:
The daily medication was very expensive. without them,  I was a risk to myself or (mildly)to society.  So I had to work a full time job to pay for the medication.  I had to pay for and take the medication to work the full time job and remain part of society.

  • No medication or no work meant catastrophe.
  • Anytime with the medication, meant dealing with side effects, or the meds could stop working.
  • Miss time at work and I could lose my job.
  • Life was a daily cycle of fending off catastrophe.

I found this cycle frustrating, and I complain to my Father ( I had just moved home with my parents):

All I do is work ,so I can pay for bipolar disorder management, so I can work, so I can pay  for bipolar disorder...”

Dad’s replied with  a sympathetic grin:congratulations!.. you now have a child.

A truth blunted with humor.  The message was clear. The message , clearly and poetically stated  from a war veteran (Dad) ,who came home to raise a family while he worked (some times two jobs ) and finished college.
I had a new life-long responsibility. I was responsible for managing my health (the best I could). I was learning to be responsible to my self, family and community by doing what it to takes to manage my circumstances… Just like any other responsibility. I would do my best to repay those who helped me in those difficult days… especially my parents.

My father passed away recently and I am reminded of his wisdom on being responsible.
He also encouraged me to plant a potato just for fun (the photo above). It just bloomed recently.