July 21, 2013

What Are You Going to Do With Your Life?

Everyday Bhagavad-Gita: Career Advice.

Verse 2.31: Considering your specific duty as a kshatriya, 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 our psycho-physical nature.

Let’s focus on the latter first, since it seems the majority of us have a hard enough time figuring this one out. I’m not using the word “occupation” in reference to a job you apply for, or are currently working in. I’m referring more to raison d’être. In other words, that activity, or call to action which you are meant to do based on your nature.

The Gita is so incredible in that not only does it present the highest truth and objectives, but it also gives us insights into how we can function more effectively and successfully even in the material world.

Case in point, here is Krishna (and He will expand later on), presenting the same message delivered by almost every single life coach and/or  job counselor out there today; you need to find what you love and do that.

How many of you have heard this before? In fact, how many of you have struggled to figure out just this? As someone who has been there and struggled personally with this maddening question, let me tell—just hearing this one phrase isn’t enough. I mean, it’s comforting 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 Krishna.

The way  you figure out what it is that you are meant to do is by understanding your qualities and proclivities.

Farmworkers picking peas

Krishna 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 interesting to further note that persons can be a combination of each of these (i.e. educator/protector).

Unfortunately, society today encourages most of us to fall under the worker category: go to school, get a job and work for a company. That’s the line most of us have been fed. The thing is that society cannot function on workers alone. It is a noble and honorable 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 really fit and not have everyone forced into the same mold if it’s obviously we don’t belong there.

Here, Krishna is speaking to Arjuna who is a protector/administrator (the Sanskirt word being kshatriya). The main role of one who is a kshatriya is to take care of all persons/living entities who are under their leadership and ensure their safety and well-being. Krishna encourages Arjuna to not run away from the qualities and proclivities that make him a kshatriya.

This is a valuable lesson as many of us also try to run away from our psycho-physical tendencies.

Instead of embracing ourselves, we try to take on the roles we’ve been told will give us stability and money. As most of us who have tried this know, 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. Be brave and find out how you can contribute to the world, instead of trying to take from it.

This in itself is a bhakti principle.

Bhakti is about being selfless and giving. It’s not about being miserly and hard-hearted.

So go on and take Krishna’s career advice—be true to your nature and work according to it. You just may be amazed at the results.


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Editor: Thaddeus Haas


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