You have put a lot of emphasis in the past on being reliable. What does it mean to be reliable?
At the most basic level, it means being true to your word, which means that you honor your commitments regardless of circumstances. Nothing is too insignificant to be free of the binding nature of having given your word. Each time you find an excuse to relieve yourself of a promise, you become more unreliable. I would say that in so doing, you weaken your confidence in yourself and make it more difficult to complete even simple tasks.
Is your word reliable? Are you very careful to give your word on something only when you intend to keep it, even in seemingly trivial matters?
The word ‘reliable’ comes from liable and liability which are carefully defined terms in law and accounting. A liability is something that is owed and must be paid or discharged by specific performance. You receive something and then you are liable for a payment of some kind. You have a liability and the one who has given you something holds your liability as an asset. This is an exchange which is binding. The terms are known and agreed in advance. You are compelled to honor them or face the consequences.
Now, how would this apply to our work?
I guess you could say that I am required to come to meetings and to be in the right state for zikr. To do these things would mean I am reliable.
Ok, but what have you received for which you are now liable? There are no rules here that must be followed. No money changes hands in the work group. This is not a club with members. You are not paid to be here and you cannot pay for this work in monetary terms. What is the transaction?
I do not know how to answer you.
Why do you do what you think is required of you by this work? There is no compulsion, no rule and no obvious benefit.
I don’t know. It’s not like any other motivation I have experienced. It feels like work efforts come from a neutral state, one without the usual emotions or self-gratification.
Yes, after the first burst of enthusiasm, this is how it is. I propose to you that what you are given in this work group is the ability to work and your liability for this gift is to the work itself, not to me or the group. The work lends you the will to work for the sake of the work and you pay for this liability by working. It is perfectly circular, as it must be, because any grounding in this world, any personal motive to work, ensures that no real work will result. And if I make you feel liable to me personally, I have taken your opportunity to work.
It is only possible to work when the effort to work stands outside of ourselves and the ordinary world as we know it. Only the work makes it possible to work. When you know this, and can sense the truth of it in the work efforts you make as you make them, you are reliable because the effort does not come from you. You begin to sense the force of the work and the will that it lends you for your work efforts, and only for your work efforts.
This suggests that as much of our life as possible should be included in our work.
Yes. Even business can be work if you are not working in the ordinary way. Rabia Basri said: “I am eating the bread of this world and doing the work of that world.” This statement contains a very great truth.
Would this understanding make someone an asset of the work?
Yes. But only the work knows for certain when real work is being done.