career planning


A lot of people are very afraid of career planning, to deal with the inconsistency of growth and the chaotic look that you may have if you keep changing your game.

Many people begin to be a teacher, and then they don’t want to be a teacher, or they start being a doctor and then they don’t want to be a doctor.

So what you hear is your unique needs, not only economically in terms of the style of life you need, but also in terms of what kind of people you want to be around, what kind of qualities you want to develop in yourself. Like in spiritual practices. You can approach spiritual practices where you start with your strengths, like if your mind is really strong, you might be attracted to Yama yoga, the yoga of the mind beating the mind. Intellectual analysis or Zen Koans for example, something like that. And your heart may be weak and your energy may not be together, but you lead with your mind. After awhile you may shift strategies and say, “I want to cultivate the weaker part of myself. I really need to cultivate the Bhakti, ‘cause I feel that the imbalance is holding me back.”

In the same way, in choosing the kind of work you do, you sometimes decide on a career in the early stages of your spiritual journey, you look for things in the environment that will give you a tremendous amount of support for your spiritual work.

Ramakrishna talks about the stage where the tree is very little and you surround it with a fence to protect it. But then as you get stronger in your spiritual work you arrive at the place where you can taste the sweetness of light, or freedom, and then all of the things that are holding you back become tremendous – it’s as if you want to take on the dragons at that point. Instead of just getting high, you want to get free, and you turn around and you go towards the things that are catching you, rather than pushing them away. In the early stages you kind of push them away; you want to hang out…

If you have a choice of two jobs, one of which has the opportunity to be around people who are in this room, you would be with us all day long, and you would earn a living from it, versus say, working with a telephone company. Now, in one stage of your development there’s no doubt which you’d choose. You’d choose being with us, because you would have lot of people around you to remind you. And we’d help each other, we’d keep reminding each other, and it’s absolutely great to have that. As time goes on and you get stronger and stronger, you then will take on anything and then you can go on into any situation, and in fact you do often go into the situations. You go into the political arena, or you go into heavy financial worlds where greed is a very dominant motivating factor. And because you’re able to transform it, because there’s not enough clinging in you to make you grab onto it.

I’m talking about the stages where people say, “I get really high up in the mountains, like in Oregon, but gee, I hate the cities. They bring me down.” You must have heard that from somebody. You know, “I can’t stand civilization. It brings me down.” And you realize that it isn’t the civilization that’s bringing you down – it’s the desires in you that the civilization fans that’s bringing you down. And that when you’re free of attachments, you can be in New York City or in a cave in the Himalayas and it makes no difference at all, because you are what you are at the moment.

So which job you will be attracted to, and how far you’ll let yourself out on your leash away from spiritual home base, is a function not only of what your interests are, but what stage of your spiritual path you’re at.


– Ram Dass


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