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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 did.

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 of work-as-play.

Work-as-play is part enthusiasm, part freedom, part authentic self-expression.

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.

©1999/Robert 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 audiences.

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.

Some of Robert's Books:

The Sacred Hub: Living in Your Real Self

Invisible Leadership: Igniting the Soul at Work 

Silence Of The Heart 


Learn more about Robert Rabbin at:



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