All of us have an all-important, full-time job. And that is not being mom, dad, son, daughter, sibling, citizen, businessman, employee or friend. It is the job of living.
This is the job that will bring us unlimited benefits without us having to sweat, suffer and slog for it: good health, wealth, something meaningful to do in this lifetime and warm, loving relationships. Yet we do all other jobs diligently than focus on this high-return, zero-risk investment opportunity called living.
Living comprises of two parts: being happy and mindful action. Being happy is an individual choice and being engaged in mindful action is an individual necessity. Both responsibilities of the job of living require us to stop using external reference points while living our lives. Simply, we must stop wanting to remake the world outside of us. I am unhappy in this relationship, I want to move on. I am unhappy in this job, I want to make a career change. I am unhappy in this country, I want to migrate. I am unhappy with this Life, I want to end it. Each of these instances of unhappiness is linked to external conditions. I will be happy if so-and-so condition is met is the most stupid and unreasonable expectation__and so is sure never to be met. Instead, when the response changes to exercising the choice__mindful action, a necessity__to remain happy despite the conditions that affect it, the benefits not only accrue instantaneously, they actually multiply exponentially.
Imagine you own an orchard. And you have to work 18 hours a day to tend to it. And have to do this overcoming all odds, to just get a few hundred kilos of yield seasonally, annually. And imagine, if there was a guarantee that if you stayed happy, despite any provocation to be unhappy, and you managed your orchard with love and care, mindfully, you could get a perennial, unlimited, uninterrupted, bountiful supply of high-quality yield. Which option would you choose? Isn’t it a no-brainer? So, even in the relationship you are having difficulty with, you continue to give your best. You may choose to remain separate, distant, but send your energy, your prayers, to the estranged person. When you do that, selflessly, you will be happy. When you are not finding happiness in whatever work you do, don’t lament. Go discover what gives you joy. Don’t approach it with a sense of fear, but with the spirit of adventure.
We heard the story the other day of a young lady, who after qualifying for and working 10 years in the publishing industry, decided that she actually wanted to serve as a doctor. So, she quit her job, enrolled into med school and over the next 10 years, qualified to be a doctor. She says she is ‘alive and happy’ now. And that’s because she chosehappiness by opting for medicine and engaged in mindful action by persevering over 10 years to qualify for it.
The second chapter of the Bhagavad Gita ends with a job description for the one who lives intelligently. Krishna, replying to Arjuna, says:
“He lives in wisdom
Who sees himself in all and all in him,
Whose love for the Lord of Love has consumed
Every selfish desire and sense-craving
Tormenting the heart. Not agitated
By grief, nor hanker after pleasure,
He lives free from lust and fear and anger.
Fettered no more by selfish attachments,
He is not elated by good fortune
Nor depressed by bad. Such is the seer…
When you keep thinking about sense-objects
Attachment comes. Attachment breeds desire,
The lust of possession which, when thwarted,
Burns to anger. Anger clouds the judgment
And robs you of the power to learn from past
Mistakes. Lost is the discriminative
Faculty, and your life is utter waste.
But when you move amidst the world of sense
From both attachment and aversion freed,
There comes the peace in which all sorrows end,
And you live in the wisdom of the Self.
The disunited mind is far from wise;
How can it meditate? How be at peace?
When you know no peace, how can you know joy?
When you let your mind follow the siren
Call of the senses, they carry away
Your better judgment as a cyclone drives
A boat off the chartered course to its doom….
He is forever free who has broken
Out of the ego-cage of I and mine
To be united with the Lord of Love.
This is the supreme state. Attain thou this
And pass from death to immortality.”
A simple tip: please cut, paste and print out this verse. Carry it in your wallet, bag, make it your desktop wallpaper, save it under drafts in your message box on your phone, pin it up at your desk at work, in your car’s dashboard, on your dressing mirror__wherever. But see it several times daily. Apply each of your daily situations to this verse. You will find meaning to what you are experiencing, you will find solutions to your dilemmas, you will find an inner peace. You will soon be able to exercise the choice of being happy despite the circumstances you are placed in. You will discover that this choice and the need to be continuously engaged in mindful action go hand in hand and are a full-time, all-consuming activity. Know that it is a 24×7 job, a huge responsibility, this thing called living. When you do it diligently, keeping your mind, body and soul alert and aligned, to the singular objective of being happy, you will have lived fully. And will continue to live forever__through your Life’s work and message.