Tuesday, March 19, 2013

career advice - part 1

Verse 2.31: Considering your specific duty as a kṣatriya, you should know that there is no better engagement for you than fighting on religious principles; and so there is no need for hesitation.

Did you know that we all have two occupations in life? One is the occupation of the soul and the other is the occupation of the body based on your psycho-physical nature.

Let's focus on the latter first, as it seems that most of us have a hard enough time figuring that one out. The word occupation is not being used in reference to a job that you are applying for or are currently working in. It refers to your raison d'être. That activity, that call to action which you are meant to do based on your nature.

The Gita is so incredible. It not only presents the highest truth and objectives but also gives us insights into how we can function more effectively and successfully even in the material world. Case in point, Krsna is here (and will expand further later on) presenting the message that every single life coach/job councilor is propounding out there today - you need to find what you love to do.

How many of you out there have heard that advice before? In fact, how many of you out there have struggled to figure out what you want to do? As someone who has been there and struggled personally with this maddening question, let me tell you - just hearing this one phrase ain't enough. I mean, it's a solace to the heart to hear what you know to be true confirmed by others, but it doesn't practically guide you to figure out what you want to do, especially if you like to do a lot of things!

Enter the Gita and Krsna. The way in which you figure out what it is that you are meant to do is by understanding the qualities and proclivities that you have.

Krsna describes how society naturally falls into four categories according to these qualities and proclivities - the educators/academics, the protectors/administrators, the businessmen/agriculturalists and finally the artists/workers. It's further interesting to note, persons can be a mix of each of these (i.e. educator/protector).

It's noteworthy that society today encourages most of us to fall into the worker category. Go to school, get a job and work for a company. That's the line that most of us have been fed. The thing is that society cannot function on workers alone. It is a noble and honourable position, just like the others, but it only represents one piece of the whole. In order for society to function properly, we need qualified individuals who are encouraged and guided to understand where they fit and not just shoved into a round peg if they obviously don't belong there.

Here, Krsna is speaking to Arjuna who is a protector/administrator (the sanskirt word being ksatriya). The main quality of one who is a ksatriya is that of being a protector. The nature of such an individual is to take care of all persons/living entities who are under their leadership and ensure their safety and well-being. Krsna encourages Arjuna to not run away from his qualities and proclivities that make him a ksatriya.

This is a valuable lesson. Many of us also try to run away from our psycho-physical tendencies. Instead, we try to take on roles that we've been told will give us stability and money. As most of us who have tried this, it doesn't make you happy. In speaking with numerous individuals who were brave enough to throw away their careers to pursue what is in line with their nature, I heard one thing over and over again - it may be hard and it may be challenging, but be true to yourself. Find out how you can contribute to the world, instead of trying to take from it.

That in itself is a bhakti principle. Bhakti is about selflessness and giving. It's not about being miserly and hard-hearted. So go on and take part 1 of Krsna's career advice - be true to your nature and work according to it. You'll be amazed by the results.

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