Alienation, Meditation Systems, and Mental Work

I’ve been interested in Buddhist and Hindu systems of thought for a long time because they say that consciousness goes beyond thought, and this has struck me as correct.  Lately though I have connected this to the fact that I work by selling my thoughts.  I’m a writer, and even before I was a writer I was going to school and thinking in part for instrumental ends.  Maybe my attraction, and the attraction of others for mind-transcending systems comes from the experience of alienation of labor, which comes about from having a job where you sell your mental labor.  Alienation means feeling like a stranger in a situation, and is related to feeling like a subject separated from a world of objects.  If you sell your thoughts in a sense your own thoughts become strangers to you, because they serve a master other than yourself.

If that’s the case then the world of nirvana would be a fantasy projected by this situation of alienation.  It would be a realm of negative freedom.  However the real path out of this alienated situation for me and people like me would be to put thoughts back into a context of concrete action, emotion, imagination, and the body.

I wonder.  And I also wonder whether simply selling something makes you alienated from it. It seems like if I write a poem and somebody trades their sheep to me for the poem then I’m not alienated.

What other conditions have to apply to labor for it to count as alienated?