Upright Livelihood: Vocation
Vocation: vo·ca·tion n (vocare (l.): to call)
1. somebody’s work, job, or profession, especially a type of work demanding special commitment
2. a strong feeling of being destined or called to undertake a particular type of work, especially a sense of being chosen by God for religious work or a religious life.
In Buddhism we learn about the Four Noble Truths. These four essential laws govern the nature of the path, the nature of the work we have to perform. The first one explains that life is suffering. And we can see that quite easily when we examine the life of any person. But of course that will become most real, most concrete, when we examine our own lives. In particular, we can see that most people suffer terribly from not knowing what to do with themselves; they do not know their purpose, their goal, their place. Very few know their true vocation: their calling.
In previous lectures we have discussed the nature and types of suffering, and with practical work on oneself - with the activation of the keys and clues in this tradition - it becomes a matter of personal knowledge and experience, to see that suffering is indeed all-pervasive. Not only in our own lives but also in the lives of those around us. And the perception of that truth is very difficult to digest. The perception is one thing, the digestion is another.
To really comprehend the nature of suffering and the scope of suffering requires a great deal of honesty and courage. The mind and ego we have prefers not to see that. The ego, our own sense of self, has certain goals, certain ways of doing things that are very much contradicted by the fact of suffering.
But nonetheless, those that are inquiring about the path, about how to improve their own lives in fundamental way - today - not just as an idea, but to achieve it - those people come to find that there are practical steps. This is the fourth noble truth: there is a way to overcome suffering.
The Buddha, when he taught the four truths, expressed the fourth truth as having eight aspects. We have heard those repeated many times. They include right view, right conduct, right speech, right action, and right effort...
It is important to understand that those eight aspects, when we use the term "right," it is not in the sense of good and bad, or good and evil, but really in the sense of completion, or togetherness. Something that is complete, pure, and whole. So right view is a view or way of seeing that is complete, and encompasses everything. It doesn't mean that one sees with an exclusive eye that focuses only on certain details or angles. It could also be interpreted as complete or coherent view. It is something that has the sense of something that has been perfected, ideal. When complete, cannot be improved upon. So that form of view, or that form of rightness, is really inherent in all eight steps of the path. To have complete view, complete action, complete effort.
When we study further into the teachings of the Buddha, we see that he taught practical steps in order to achieve those eight aspects of the path. He says in one sutra,
“From skillful understanding proceeds purity of thought.”
The word “understanding” we always relate to the Kabbalah, and to the Logos, Binah, which is related to “understanding” or “intelligence.” And of course Binah is related to the Holy Spirit, to the fire. And so real understanding is related to the fire, it is a product of work. The sacred fire is what manifests purity of thought. That fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of the Third Logos, is also called Kundalini. And when the Kundalini is arising or awakening, it fecundates purity of thought; without that fire, purity of thought is next to impossible.
97% of human thoughts are negative and harmful. – Samael Aun Weor
From skillful thought, says the Buddha, proceeds purity of speech. And of course we know purity of speech, as we have discussed in other lectures, is a manifestation of what we already have inside. What we speak reflects what we think and feel. And if we say something that we do not believe, we are a liar. Moreover, if we say something that is not true, even if we believe it, we are a liar. So to have pure speech, or right speech, requires skillful thought, or right thinking, which is of course dependent on the sacred fire.
In like manner, from speech proceeds purity of action. And from pure action, proceeds purity of livelihood. Action is a very important key element in these studies. And the action one can undertake is of course not limited to physical action. A thought is an action, a feeling is an action. So from the Buddha we see there is intimate relationship between understanding, thought, speech, and action.
Right action, or complete action, is always modified and managed by the Law of Karma. That law states for every action, there is a consequence. Pure, right action requires effort, requires knowledge, requires understanding, requires great mindfulness. And truthfully all the steps for the eight-fold path are mindfulness itself, and mindfulness is simply to be aware of what we are doing. To be aware from moment to moment and conscious of what we do. You cannot have right speech without mindfulness, or right thought, or right view. So it is fundamental and vital to learn and understand practically speaking, daily, moment-to-moment, what is mindfulness? What does it mean to be aware? Cognizant? Conscious? To perform what we call in Gnosis, Self-observation and Self-remembering.
A great question many of us have - that is something immediate, and that many of us sweat over and struggle over - is right livelihood: knowing how to live. Knowing what to do with ones life and time. Our culture provides many opportunities, avenues. Many ways to use our time and energy. Daily, constantly, we are being presented with examples, and all those examples are presented to us with hope we will imitate them. We watch TV and see shows of people with different jobs and careers. And there is always this flavor: that if we imitate this person, we will be happy. So we have shows and movies that concentrate and focus on certain careers, showing them to be very honorable and fruitful. It is sort of a mystery why certain types of livelihood receive praise and others are ignored. But in terms of spiritual development, we cannot look to our culture and media for examples of right livelihood. Right livelihood is definitely one of the steps of the eight-fold path – it is the fifth. Those who know the Tarot and Kabbalah will immediately recognize that the number five has a relationship to right livelihood. The number five is closely related with the law of karma, and the Being.
In Buddhism, in the scripture in which the Buddha explains the eight steps, he says,
What, monks, is right livelihood? There is a case of a disciple of the noble ones, having abandoned dishonest livelihood, keeps his life going with right livelihood – this, monks, is called right livelihood.
Sort of a brief and not very revealing answer, but it does say something really important. We find our right livelihood by abandoning dishonest livelihood. So according to the Buddha the key to finding right livelihood is in sincerity, honesty.
And if you examine and study the great teachers of Buddhism, from any tradition, they pretty much agree what livelihood is not. They will tell you that dealing in weapons, slavery, prostitution, poisons, intoxicants, etc. are wrong livelihood. In essence, they all say, anything that is dishonest or harmful to others. So obviously this creates a great contradiction in the context of our modern culture. A large percentage of the jobs or careers we admire and aspire towards, actually require deceit, hypocrisy, treachery, trickery. I am sure any one of us could come up with examples to illustrate that.
To find our own true vocation requires that we abandon dishonest livelihood. That really begins with the mindfulness of who we are and what we are doing. The term “vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare,” which means “to call.” So we use vocation to refer to a calling, something we feel called to do. In the dictionary we find something like “the strong feeling of being destined, or called to undertake a particular type of work” - often spiritual. And in Gnosis we fully embrace that.
The Master Samael Aun Weor stated that every person has a purpose in life, meaning every person has a vocation, a calling, a destiny. This is more or less a mission, or role to fill. But unfortunately, because of our egos, desires, fears, we tend to not find that vocation. Instead, we listen to our fear, or pride, and try to find some position or place in life that will satisfy that fear or pride. So rather than discovering our own calling, we seek to find security. The security we chase could be financial, or social. Family. Community. Many of us look for work, not from a sense of what is right and natural to our own Being, but instead based on envy, because we want what someone else has. And of course all these approaches are wrong. Sadly, most people work and toil, slave – driven by fear, envy, and pride.
With the exception of someone completely handicapped and limited, really every person has a purpose to serve. The difficult thing is finding that purpose. The most important thing in life is to know oneself. If one is approaching that knowledge, and acquiring that knowledge, then ones place in life goes hand in hand. In as much as we know ourselves, we know our place, our work, our vocation.
There is no quick fix to finding your vocation. No career books or college course, no job aptitude test you can take that will definitely give you your vocation. I wish it were otherwise, but no one can tell you what your role in life should be. Yet, finding that role is of paramount importance.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find someone who has discovered their vocation, because it is difficult to find someone who knows himself or herself. When someone is fully convinced of the role they have to play in life, they become a different kind of person – an apostle, a champion, a hero. It doesn’t mean they will be in the spotlight, or anyone will know what they are doing, but the nature of the work and their energy is heroic – whether a farmer, tailor, or president. The type of vocation is individual; it is the nature of love put into that effort that distinguishes it.
Whoever knows and discovers their vocation does not seek success or fame or money. We always look to the examples of the great artists, composers, leaders who, mysteriously to us, were able to sacrifice everything for the love of their work, and we rightly admire that. We can look to examples in history, to Simon Bolivar, to the Buddha, to Jesus, to Beethoven and Mozart. These persons knew their role, and found through the opportune moment the place they needed to act.
This type of person who is performing their natural vocation is fully satisfied by the work itself. There is no concern for money or titles, or recognition, just simply the love of the work. It is like a bee who makes honey, it is just what they do. And really, that is what one’s vocation is; it is what we do, because that is what we do. No reasoning or justifying. It is in our heart to do it.
With that natural love of our work comes the willingness to do it at any cost. The love of the work for the person who has found their vocation is so great that they are willing to withstand any obstacle or difficulty. That is a defining characteristic, because the ego does not like that. The ego wants things to come easily, with money, fame, recognition, respect, and most especially the envy of others.
With sincere introspection, we can examine our own interests in life and discover that many of our own interests exist because we want others to envy us. We want to be successful so others will be jealous. So we can show ourselves - and be respected and admired. This is all ego, pride. On this basis there can be no true vocation. The true vocation is the calling of the essence, the consciousness, the work of the Being. And this work cannot be performed where the ego is present.
The ego, in synthesis, hates our vocation. This deserves some reflection. If we are so enmeshed in our own ego, and so protective of our ego, and so enslaved to our desire, how can we possible find our vocation? If on a day-to-day basis we look to make our ego feel good, how can we find our real work? We cannot. We have to develop the willingness to contradict the ego, and this is a painful internal battle. To go against the impulses of our own mind is not simple. Moreover, it cannot be accomplished in one day, or by simply reading a book, or hearing a lecture. To really make headway against the current of life, driven by Karma and desire, requires tremendous willpower. But is willpower rooted in sincerity and honest with oneself.
The sense of vocation, when we discover it, corresponds in an absolute way to our true destiny or calling, and gives us the capacity - almost with a sense of ease - to withstand any type of infamy, treachery, or slander. When one is performing one’s vocation, slander becomes leaves in the wind, treachery and betrayal become games with no meaning. The love of the work is so great that there is no obstacle that one cannot overcome. In synthesis, our vocation is not accompanied by desire for power, but by a love for humanity.
A person whose vocation, whose true calling is to be a baker, will bake for the love of baking, and for the love of giving those goods to others. Such joy comes to that person when his customers enjoy what he makes, and they will, because those goods are filled with the energy of the baker’s love for his work. This is what makes the difference – people can sense it. We all have examples of places we have been, things we have seen, food we tasted, that were different. Two people can prepare the same recipe, but the food will be different. It will be vastly different when the cook is performing their true vocation.
This is true of any type of job. There is no one vocation better than another, because each person has their own. There is no career that is superior. Of course, nowadays there are certain jobs we admire and certain others that we spit upon, and that is wrong. If one’s vocation is to collect trash, that is a beautiful vocation to humanity. Likewise, cleaning toilets is an irreplaceable job, a vital and important job. Being president or CEO is no better. Being a famous artist is no better, particularly if it is not your vocation. There are people we admire because we think they do a great job, but do we know it is their vocation?
You can begin to see if someone is performing their vocation when you measure what they do by how it benefits humanity. Upon that measure, we will find very few people who are performing their vocation. Fortunately, there are some people we can find who are clear examples, good examples, such as the Dalai Lama, or Gandhi.
Now the example of Gandhi is very clear. As a young man he was living in South Africa studying law, and one day he was presented with a situation where his fellow countrymen were being discriminated against and abused. Sensing the injustice of that, he leapt into it - at great costs to himself - and defended his fellow men, performing a great service without any regard for his own well-being. In that instant he discovered his vocation, and from that time on he worked tirelessly for the well-being of his fellow men.
The beauty of what he did is not so much in his service to his fellow Indians, but also in his service to those perceived as his enemies, because he adopted an approach that is also serving those who were abusing his fellow men. Talk about something difficult to do. He didn’t simply take up arms to kill the British, or humiliate them, he sought a way to benefit them all, and he achieved it, at great cost and sacrifice, but with tremendous love.
That is not to say that all of us should become Gandhi. Your divine vocation will be found in the course of your own life, not outside of you, or in a book, or a college. Look in the circumstances of today. Where is there a need? Where is there injustice? Where is there suffering? How can you help? What can you offer? By asking those questions you can find your vocation. Those questions are not based on money or fame or recognition, but from a place of love. It does not mean you have to take dramatic action – it means you do what you are naturally called to do, in your heart, because it is what you must do.
Of course, the ego does not like that and naturally will say, “How will I make a living? How will I pay my rent? How will I eat? If I go do this job (whatever it may be), how will I survive?”
Most of us listen to that chattering mind, and that is tragic, because it is just fear. It is the way the Ego manipulates us to keep feeding it.
Remember this: the Being, the divinity that gives us life, does not fear. The Being is the Being – there is no fear there. The fearless state is possible for any person – but to reach it, we have to abandon fear, and discover the courage to do what is right.
To find one’s vocation requires courage. The courage to take risks, to contradict “what we are supposed to do,” what our parents and friends think we should do, etc. Instead of seeking more money, power, fame, those who perform their vocation seek to serve – how to serve others.
The Ego seeks “more.” It seeks to feed itself. So in the normal job track, the career of most people, they look for an easier job and more money. A better title, more respect. Convenience. Pleasure. Self-satisfaction. The ego does not ask, “How can I be of service,” or “How can I improve the lives of others?”
When we follow the mechanism of the ego and seek more money, more security, more respect, and more recognition, what is the result? I am sorry to point out that when we follow that mechanism of “more,” we become more hypocritical, more dishonest, more cruel, more merciless. That is because the Ego - seeking to feed itself - does so at the expense of others.
If you examine our modern economics, and the ideas and dreams that suffuse our culture, we have this idea that there is a way to get what we want quickly and without much effort – and we believe we deserve it. But we fail to realize that as much as we gather, we take from someone else. Who realizes that? Does the man whose accumulated a billion dollars realize he has taken it away from others? Does the salesman who has fought and lied and deceived for more money realize he has taken it off the table of a family? Does the CEO realize when he is cruising on his million-dollar yacht, that all the money to buy and support that pleasure comes at the expense of others? I would suggest that he does not. The moment he thinks about it, he turns away from that unbearable thought. This is called “insincerity.” It is insincere and dishonest and sad. And this is the basis on which the society we have rests. This is why we have “the haves and have-nots.”
I am not suggesting any form of communism. I am not suggesting any kind of revolution economically. I am suggesting we as human beings become more honest, sincere, and aware of what we are doing. If you observe our culture, you can see how we have corrupted all the vast possibilities of work. The many types of jobs people can do are given to machines. Thus the people, who would naturally find their vocation as a farmer, seamstress, or craftsman, have nothing to do, because they cannot survive. So what can they do? They become salesmen. Buyers and sellers. Cogs in a machine, which does not care about their vocation. The machine only cares to make more money and have more power.
We wonder why our society is coming apart at the seams. Truly, the sense of vocation is at the heart of the problem. Human beings not knowing their vocation are forced into jobs and lifestyles, which humiliate them and zap them of all enthusiasm for right action.
Our society is like a machine with all the parts in the wrong places. We have people who should be presidents working as janitors, and janitors who should be president. Everybody is in the wrong place because they do not know their true vocation. We are all flopping about like fish on the shore, unable to breath, act, move. Terrified. The chaotic state of our humanity is truly horrifying, and no one is happy because they do not have their true vocation. Jobs that offer a little security and money are overwhelmed with applications, and none of those people should really be doing those jobs. But they have no choice. People are in places that do not correspond to them, and the result is that our society is a failure. We do not see it yet: but the heart and soul of our civilization is fatally corrupt.
People are unhappy. The happiness we find in work is transient and brief, and usually based in a brief sense of security or power, and the rest of the time consumed with doubt and discouragement.
More than that, when we find ourselves in a position that does not correspond with our vocation, we end up exploiting others, craving power, money, and fame. We seek to acquire those things on the back of other people. How do you become famous, rich? You cannot do it by yourself. You do it because others put you there. So how do you achieve that? If you read books in the business section, they may have pretty words, but they all say the same thing: you get your money from someone else, and by being clever.
The answer to this problem is to find one’s vocation, what the Buddha called right livelihood. To find your true work, you have to abandon dishonest livelihood, and the dishonesty is really within ourselves. We have to stop lying to ourselves.
There are three ways to find our vocation.
The first way is by discovering we have a special capacity, some skill or ability that is natural. We may have many skills, but the vocation will encompass it all. The intellect cannot find the synthesis of our skills and interests, but the heart can.
The second way is by recognizing an urgent need. In the case of Gandhi, he found an urgent need and answered, and in that moment he discovered his vocation and performed a great service to humanity because of it.
The third way is through guidance. This is very rare. Guidance can come in many forms. Some people have been lucky to have the guidance of a loving parent. So we can look to the case of Mozart. His father may be criticized, but his father recognized in his son tremendous talent. His father loved him and sacrificed so his son could blossom, and Mozart did blossom in his vocation. What a great example he is! Mozart loved music, and loved to give his music to others. He composed out of love, and never concerned himself with money: and look at the awe inspiring gifts he gave to humanity! We have to be grateful to Mozart, but also to his father.
Could you imagine if that young boy had a different parent? We would have never heard the music and that would be a tragedy. And on the other side of the same coin, how many beautiful works were left uncreated because the parents were unable to guide the child to their true vocation? Why does that happen? Primarily, because the parent seeks to live out their own desire through their child, or they project all of their own fears onto the child. The parent - dissatisfied with their own accomplishments - seeks to impregnate their own child with that desire. So the parent who failed to become a doctor or lawyer, demands their child become one. And the child has no desire, skill, aptitude for that. But because of pressure, fear, pride, imitation, the child goes on to become a very unhappy doctor or lawyer. We also see many sad examples of parents who are afraid of poverty, and thus demand their children pick careers that promise financial security. But such children, traumatized and misled, end their lives in misery, having never found their true calling. What a tragedy, and how common!
Good guidance in the path towards our vocation is very rare. It could come from a teacher, or a friend. Most of us need to look at the first and second sources for inspiration. By understanding our own natural capacities, skills, etc., we can combine them with an urgent need. In that way, discovering ones vocation becomes a matter of patience. We find it in accordance with our karma and effort.
Karma, of course, modifies everything. If we owe, and do not deserve to have our vocation right now, we should be patient. But the more we inspect ourselves and look in our hearts and minds, and the more we know about ourselves, the more prepared we will be when that moment arises. When the moment comes and the urgent need presents itself, we will be prepared to act because we know ourselves and we know what we can do and are capable of.
In the very beautiful book called “The Way of the Life of the Bodhisattva,” Shantideva writes that the forces that secure the good of being are aspiration, firmness, joy, and moderation. These four apply directly to our vocation.
Aspiration is the craving or impulse of the essence, the longing of the soul to know itself. Any of us who are investigating Gnosis have that, because without it we would not be here. So students of Gnosis have aspiration, the calling, the longing of the soul to know itself. But that knowing or aspiration is a longing for action, expression. That is the essence itself. It is an energy. The consciousness is a conduit through which the Being will express his idiosyncrasy. What that means is that each of us has a vocation, which corresponds directly to the idiosyncrasy of our own Being. Our Being has a vocation; the Being doesn’t just float in space. The Being works, it is active. The Monad is energy, action. It is not something passive, some idea, or something vague. It is an agent of change.
So the Being we have is related to a Ray, and we know there are seven primary Rays. And we know that each Ray has its own tendencies or quality. So the Ray of Saturn, the Ray of Death, stimulates and feeds certain types of vocation. For instance, to work in a funeral home. In our culture we tend not to think about that, and think people that work in funeral homes are creepy. They are not… they are people filling an important role in society. And a Being related with the Ray of Saturn may have that skill to work with the forces of death, which are important—as important as birth, equal. So the vocation, the true calling that works with the Ray of Death, should be admired. Seen as equal with all other vocations.
Likewise, related to the 4th and 5th Rays, we have military and courts. We have different types of careers that spiritual people might condemn. But there is a Ray related to politics, to courts, to the military. So vocations in those fields can be your true calling, your place to serve humanity, and there is no shame in that, only dignity.
This is one of the most important gifts that a vocation bestows upon a person. Dignity. This is not pride. Pride is a lie. A doctor can be very proud, but that does not mean it is his vocation. A doctor in his vocation may be humble but dignified, because he is performing his true work. He is acting from the impulses of his own conscious. He is doing what must be done. That is dignity and it is beautiful. So, the aspiration for vocation or service is a quality of the consciousness.
Likewise, the second quality we need: firmness. To be firm is to be resolute, defined. It does not mean one should be stiff. One can be firm and flexible. If you look at a Chinese sword, they use a type of sword in certain forms of martial arts in China that will bend, which is an unusual thing to see. But that flexibility is a form of firmness, which is deadly in that case. Likewise in the sense of our own consciousness, we must be firm but flexible, adaptable but unwavering.
Water has the same quality. What force can resist the flow of a river? A stone, which is hard and firm, placed in front of the river, will be dissolved. At first, the river will go around it, and be flexible, but its persistence will wear the stone away. That is firmness. We need that same quality in our daily work. That firmness will reveal our vocation.
And saying that, it is worth pointing out your vocation may not be your job. Think about that. You may get a “job” in order to finance your vocation. Right? Do not expect your vocation will give you a paycheck; it may not. You may have to get some kind of job to finance your real work, and there is nothing wrong with that. As a matter of fact, if you find yourself in that situation, you may discover that the daily job is a matter of course; it is just a job. It can become a pleasure when it is financing your vocation or real work.
The third factor is Joy. Joy is also a quality of the consciousness. That joy is natural. When you do what you know you should do, joy arises. It is natural and cannot be forced. That joy is the joy of doing it. The joy of doing what feels right and natural. It is the joy of seeing the fruits of that work. The tricky part here is that Krishna said we should work without concern for the results, which is true. In a real vocation we do it for the sake of working. The Master Samael Aun Weor wrote and wrote and wrote until his fingers were decaying and falling apart. It was painful to type a key, but he kept doing it because he loved it. He was expressing the love of his Being for humanity and received the pleasure and joy of doing the work and how it benefited others. He didn’t do it for that reason though; he just did it because that is what he did. There is a distinction there.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a great writer and poet, said that “each man has his vocation. His talent is his call. There is one direction in which all space is open to him” and this is true. The one who is realizing vocation is irreplaceable, and is in a position to express that to the infinite degree. They cannot be competed with. There is no one else who can do what you can do. It is your vocation, your unique place, which bears the mark and stamp of your own Being. There is no one to compete for that spot except yourself. No one to step over or conquer, except yourself. As such, there is an infinite range of expression before you. It is your own unique way, and that is inspiring, to know that track is there. Knowing that, and experiencing that, produces joy.
The fourth quality is moderation. Moderation is also a quality of the consciousness. Even in one’s vocation, one needs to rest. Even in one’s vocation, one needs to know how to perform it. One needs to be very smart, intelligent, careful. Just to have a vocation does not give you license to do anything. The true definition of your vocation is to fulfill destiny and calling, which is a series of steps, action. It has to be performed in the right way. This means we have to moderate our enthusiasm and enact it with patience and intelligence.
Now these four qualities are obviously qualities of the consciousness, and by reflecting on them, they can help us define our vocation. When you look at your natural inclinations and interests, consider them with relation to your aspiration and to your own firmness to perform that work. If you find that it is not natural for you to do it, then maybe that is not your vocation. If it something you just want to do for the sake of doing it, then you should look at it carefully as it may lead you to something important.
The other important factor is that the ego will do everything it can to dissuade you. The person who feels the calling in their heart to be a painter will look at our modern culture and say, “What is the point?” There are no jobs for painters, no careers, no money, and no way to make a living! And so that person will listen to those fears, and will end up being a teller or clerk in a store, and unhappy. The vocation, that sense of doing, the real drive, can overcome those obstacles, but not if we listen to the ego. If we listen to our ego, our pride and fear, the vocation will be abandoned.
It was Henry de Balzac, the French writer, who said something like “The vocation we abandon, will bleed over the course of our entire life like a color.” And this is true. We will always wonder why didn’t we do it. “Why am I not doing that? Why did I abandon that longing?” That is the door to tragedy, a life unfulfilled.
Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.” When you have vocation, you will find a way. When you know your vocation, you will find your work; “how” becomes irrelevant. No how? “We’ll find it.” That is what vocation says. That takes courage.
In the book of Ephesians, St. Paul gives us some important clues about vocation. It is subtle, but here it is, Chapter 4:
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.
So thus far we see, all of us have vocation. We should live worthy of that vocation, knowing that it is a gift we are given. Furthermore he writes:
Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
(Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?
He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
So he is saying here of course, that we are given guidance. The guidance comes in levels, some are apostles, and some are teachers. But all the teachings are given for the perfection of the sangha, the community, the body. He continues:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
So it is clear that by us receiving the teachings, learning Gnosis, learning about ourselves, overcoming our limitations, we discover our vocation, our real work. We in turn become a more conducive part of the body of the sangha. The parts of the body begin to fit together better, which makes for a stronger humanity and church, and by church we mean the conscious church, which serves this entire humanity.
This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
And this is what we all do. With dark understanding and alienated from our Being, we work in blindness of the heart. We ignore our true feelings. We give ourselves into unclean work with greed.
But ye have not so learned Christ;
If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
Neither give place to the devil.
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
This is a very powerful indication and statement about vocation, and the way to arrive at knowing our own, and acting upon it.
The basis of discovering our vocation and performing the work that Paul indicates is mindfulness. We have to be mindful, constantly, without pause. Even when resting we should be mindful. But most of all, in action. Any kind of action. Brushing our teeth, taking a walk, preparing food, helping the hungry. We need to be very mindful of what we are doing and question our action.
Stop and cease all action that is harmful to others. Seek to increase all action that is beneficial to others.
At all times, and in any situation, mindfulness will be my constant habit. This will be the cause whereby I am to meet with teachers and fulfill the proper task.
So the discovery of vocation is based upon compassionate action with mindfulness.
If we begin today, to mindfully observe each action we perform and measure that action by asking, “Is this truly beneficial for myself and others? Is what I am doing harmful or helpful?” And the closer we come to answering that question with a positive response, the closer we come to that moment when vocation is revealed.
Those who master this way of living are Bodhisattvas. The Bodhisattva has renounced self-interest and has dedicated himself to the benefit of humanity. That way of living is not arrived at in a day or by merely intending good things, good intentions. It is arrived at by performing right actions – by knowing and defining in oneself what right action is. This type of person makes every activity a service to humanity. As mundane as the activity may be, it can be of service…if the attitude is proper, it right, it is complete.
Shantideva writes as well,
Like those who take great pleasure in their games, the Bodhisattvas in their every deed feel the greatest joy, exhilaration, and pleasure that will never fade or past.
When one is performing their vocation, there is tremendous joy, but that is not the reason the vocation is performed. If we seek the vocation because we want to be happy, this is ok. But it is very limiting, because that can become ego. When we transcend that desire and the vocation becomes an expression of how to help others, that is true vocation. And that can be in the form of any type of job, action. And it may appear with many different faces; it can even appear harmful, on the surface. But in the heart, under the guidance of the Being, it is vocation. So by fighting against our own selfish desires, by knowing ourselves, by stopping ourselves from being dishonest and insincere, by being mindful of our moment to moment activities, we begin to go against the selfish desires that rule our own mind. And every time we do that we reduce suffering. We may not feel like it, and sometimes it can feel worse, however, surgery can be painful, but necessary.
Fighting against those desires and performing right action, we begin to establish real peace within ourselves. And those right actions begin to spread peace around us as well. That peace can grow when we realize that our every action be can be of benefit to others. When we work on ourselves and on behalf of others, that peace blossoms in us.
Shantideva wrote one last thing which well defines vocation, he said,
The lichen hanging in the trees wafts to and fro,
Stirred by every breath of wind;
Likewise, all I do will be achieved
Enlivened by the movements of a joyful heart.
- Santideva, The Bodhisattva's Way of Life
That is vocation.
Q: In order to find vocation, you have to sacrifice the Ego?
A: Yes. To find vocation, you must sacrifice the Ego. This means that the desire we have for fame, power, pride, or to be envied, has to be scarified, which is painful. Because we built that pride, that envy. It is not easy…
The other thing that is often the case when one finds vocation is that the person who is living and fulfilling his or her own vocation is almost universally attacked, envied, criticized. That is very difficult. However, the very longing to fulfill vocation will overcome those obstacles. But it can provide some challenge. Look at the Dalai Lama: he a great example of someone who is joyfully doing his best, using his skills to benefit others. And he is constantly scrutinized, criticized, and even threatened with violence, but he continues on with a smile.
Q: How do you find your Ray?
A: Raise your eyebrows and count the lines on your forehead.
There are seven fundamental Rays, and the Master Samael wrote in the book of Seven Words, that if you raise your eyebrows, you can count the lines on your forehead, and you will have between one and seven, and that will explain your Ray.
Q: Explain each…Number One is…?
A: Here is what the Master wrote about it in The Manual of Practical Magic:
The Characteristics of the Planets
- The Moon. Journeys, manual arts, novelists, liquid-related businesses, matters related with maternity, agriculture, illnesses of the stomach and of the brain, etc.
- Mercury. Journalism, intellectualism, businesses, quarrels, journeys and all types of matters related with the Mind.
- Venus. Loves, marriages, women, perfumes, music, plastic arts, dramatic arts, poetry.
- The Sun. High dignitaries, mystical matters, social position, high Hierarchs, etc.
- Mars. Wars, military matters, police matters, quarrels, leaders, works related to money, big businesses, matters related with judges, and with tribunals, etc.
- Jupiter. High civil and ecclesiastic military persons, matters related with money, big businesses, matters related with judges and with tribunals, etc.
- Saturn. Matters related with lands, matters related to mines, funerary matters, angels of death, etc.
Each Ray has its own qualities, BUT, you cannot define yourself just on those words, and the reason is this:
Beethoven, as an example, is a great musician and composer, but is not from the Ray of Art. So do not think that when you know your Ray, you will know your career or vocation, it is not that simple. It can help show you a general tendency.
Q: Is it a quality…?
A: Yes it is qualities. So you can be from the Ray of Mercury – science, the mind, medicine – but be an artist. And there are artists who belong to that Ray. Likewise, there are people who belong to the Ray of Venus who are scientists, and doctors.
Audience: There are great surgeons from the Ray of Mars…
A: Exactly. There are great surgeons from the Ray of Mars, but the Ray of Mercury is related to medicine, not Mars, so there is not a distinct limitation that your job will directly correspond to your Ray, it is just your Ray imparts certain qualities and tendencies that will manifest differently for each person.
Q: But also just because those people are doctors or physicians that belong to the Ray of Venus, that doesn’t mean that that is their calling either…?
A: That’s true. Exactly that. Just because you are a doctor doesn’t mean you are from the Ray of Mercury, and it doesn’t even mean that is your vocation. So your vocation is the idiosyncrasy of your Being that will express through your consciousness. If we only have 3% free consciousness, how much chance do we have to find our vocation, much less to find ourselves mechanically performing it? Not much. So to acquire vocation is a matter of work, not chance.
Q: So you have the same vocation all your incarnations?
A: Vocation is related to the Being. The Being is from one Ray and will never change it. So that idiosyncrasy or quality of the Being is eternal. Vocation is the destiny or job or role of that human soul. In its essence, its synthesis, it will remain the same, but it can wear different suits. It can perform different tasks in different times.
So for example, the Master Samael Aun Weor performed different functions, types of work, which on the surface may look different, but in the essence are the same vocation. He was a teacher, he was a writer, he was a lecturer, he was a guide, he was a healer, he did a lot of different things, but they were all part of his vocation. Paracelsus is another example. Other great initiates who performed many types of work as scientists, philosophers, writers, farmers, and all were related of their vocation, all an expression of their own intimate quality. So you cannot just say, “I am a blank,” because that isn’t the case.
The Being is a vast intelligence that is capable of manifesting in many ways. And when you manifest that force of the Being, that is vocation, and that can come out in different ways. It may come out in many ways at one time. You may perform many different functions, and they may sprout from your vocation, your calling.
Audience: Your vocation manifests according to circumstances…
A: That is a very good point. Your vocation manifests according to circumstances. So as circumstances change, your role will change.
Q: That was my question actually – we are presented in life with opportunities, and certain opportunities develop certain abilities within us, which can bring us closer to realizing the strengths that pertain to our vocation. So certain jobs may come up that help us develop that, or to realize that, because we may not realize we have certain abilities until the opportunities present itself.
A: That is an excellent point. Circumstances will arise in life that will help us learn our vocation and teach us things we need to know. In my own case, this is undoubtedly true. I have had many different types of jobs, all of which I suffered in, but with time and experience I’ve come to realize every one of them taught me something that I now use and is helpful to me. So in a way, none of the experiences were wasted. Now as my circumstances change, and my life situation is moving from one set of circumstances to another, I am bringing some of those skills to bear and help me in the work I perform. I am also learning new things that I will need now and tomorrow. So the real lesson in that for me is learning to be adaptable and to take advantage of all situations, all circumstances. And that really is a foundational thing in Gnostic psychology. To take advantage of adversity, to not avoid something painful or difficult, but learn from it.
I’ll give you another example. There was a man who I heard about who was a Gnostic instructor who was wealthy and well connected - and incidentally, vocation doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with money. The same with Gnosis: you can be rich or poor, doesn’t matter. But anyway, this man happened to be wealthy, and well connected politically and in business, but a new set of circumstances arose, likely due to an internal process, where he became widely criticized and condemned. As such, all his connections were lost, as well as his fortunes. So he was left penniless and friendless, and to support himself he opened a shop to print books – a skill he learned when he was a young man. So when he was young he thought this was a pointless thing to learn, but by the time this happened, it later saved his life.
And in my case I can say the same is true. There were things I learned when I was younger which now are absolutely vital to what I do, but at the time I complained. I was very unhappy knowing and doing those things, but now they are essential. So it is interesting how Karma and the will of the Being can and interrelate and are able to provide us with the skill and tools we need to find our vocation. Existence is not here just to make us suffer. Even suffering itself is there to teach us something. So when we realize that, we can take advantage of it and not become bitter.
Ultimately, everything we experience is trying to lead us to our vocation. If we do not find it, we only have ourselves to blame. In our vocation, our mission, is the mission of our Being. To discover Him, we need to discover our purpose in life. God needs us to work for Him, in the same way that we need God to work for us. So, let us all discover ourselves, and our purpose in life, and in that way we can be of better service to one another.
Whoever knows his vocation or whoever is able to discover it for himself goes through a tremendous change; he does not seek success any more, little is his interest in money, fame, and gratitude. His pleasure is then in the joy it gives him, having responded to an intimate, profound, unknown call of his own internal Essence. - Samael Aun Weor, Fundamental Education
If each one does their duty as an individual and if each one works in their own proper vocation, it will be right with the whole. - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love;
Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. - Ephesians 4
The instructors who teach the lectures and courses are volunteers from a wide variety of backgrounds. Each has years of experience teaching and working with the practices and exercises that awaken the consciousness. Since the goal of dharma, yoga, or gnosis is to follow our inner Being, and to focus on divinity not terrestrial personalities, the lecturers remain anonymous, and do not broadcast their names, faces, or personal information. They do not have spiritual titles or names, do not accept followers, and live their lives anonymously like any other person in society.