by Robert Rabbin
My father died of heart failure
at 53. For years, I watched him leave the house every
morning, never excited, never eager, never inspired. He
walked silently through the door, a look of resignation
on his face. He did not go to work with his heart, and
his heart failed him through neglect.
My father’s legacy to me was
that I should not work for a living, and I haven’t. I
prefer to say that I play for a living. With my father’s
last face still alive in my mind—vivid in his coffin—I
do not say this as a matter of semantics. I loved my
father and I was heartbroken that he died the way he
He died from a lack of passion.
He died so young because he did not follow his heart to
the work his heart would have led him to. I have tried
to live differently. I have tried to live my passions,
to put my shovel in that ground which is moist and rich
with nutrients for my heart and which invigorates my
soul. As I analyze the nutrient-rich soil of my
"work" I find four distinct elements.
The first element of
work-as-play is enthusiasm: we have to want to do the
work we do. It has to ignite our deep love for living.
We have to reach out with a full yes with our full
presence, and do that work with our whole fiery spirit.
We might not always know exactly why we’re doing it,
but we must know in our heart, in the truth-knowing
fluid of our soul’s arteries, that it is right. This
rightness is different from explanation or reason or
rationale. This rightness is intuitive and inevitable:
it is a wind rampaging in the cavernous depths of our
life-giving breathing place.
The second element is freedom.
When we choose or accept, we are no one’s slave, no
one’s victim. We are under no obligation. We work from
our heart, with devotion. Where there is devotion there
is freedom. We love our work because our work reveals
who we are. We become intimate with our work and those
with whom we work, because the revelations of our soul
in what we do has a depth of feeling which exposes our
inside to the outside. What we do is, as Rumi said, the
beauty that we love. Beauty, love, and work, when
blended together, can be called play.
When we are free, we can tell
the truth, and this is the third element. In freedom,
there is no fear, no controlling mechanism to intimidate
or coerce us. So, we can let what is inside come
outside. We can give full expression to our artistic
pulse, our soaring energy, our bold declarations, and
our daring inventions. We let our full artistry and
passion pour out and over everything we touch. Sharing
the truth of our deep love and joy is another hallmark
Work-as-play is part
enthusiasm, part freedom, part authentic
The fourth element is
commitment. Commitment is not something we do. It is not
willful. Commitment does not reinforce work-as-play, as
timbers hold up a roof. Commitment is a state of being
in which the juice of life, the life force, rushes madly
from lover to beloved. How could we not give ourselves
fully, totally, absolutely to what we most love?
Commitment is thus effortless, because it is natural to
live at the farthest edge of giving when one is in love.
We must do what we do; our heart demands it, our soul
craves it—we will not ever hold back one ounce.
Commitment is a state of being whose aura is devotion,
freedom, and self-expression.
Perhaps there are other
elements contained within this notion of work-as-play,
but they will start to turn back onto themselves. They
will become mirrored images of each other. We can say
that work-as-play involves a sense of meaning. But
meaning will always be wordlessly present when we choose
and accept what moves from deeply within us.
We can say there must be a
feeling of purpose, but there is no higher purpose than
that love of our doing. It is purpose enough. We might
say that work-as-play should serve and benefit others.
Is there any greater service than to the soul? Is there
any gift given to another greater than freedom?
My father’s legacy to me is
this: grab hold of your soul and do not let go. Follow
it. Do not hesitate. Do not negotiate. Do not
equivocate. Follow, and be free.
Rabbin/All Rights Reserved
Robert Rabbin has had a
lifelong interest in the true nature of Self and
reality. In 1969, he began researching mystic traditions
and practicing meditation and self-inquiry. In 1973,
Robert trekked overland to India where he met meditation
master Swami Muktananda, with whom he studied for the
next ten years.
Since 1985, Robert has been
leading self-inquiry seminars, designing spirit-based
corporate retreats, serving as an executive advisor to
visionary leaders of numerous organizations, and
speaking with business, spiritual, and academic
Robert is the author of several
books. His newest, "Echoes of Silence: Awakening
the Meditative Spirit," will be released in the
Fall of 2000.
For additional information,
please visit Robert’s web site: www.robrabbin.com.
of Robert's Books:
The Sacred Hub: Living in Your Real Self
Invisible Leadership: Igniting the Soul at Work
Silence Of The Heart