Lawyer (lawyers) and spiritual practice
(excertpt from: Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai, Washington D.C., U.S.A., December 23, 1997 (Originally in English))
Q: 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"?
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.
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.
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