Today we’re going to focus on only one subject, but it is so vast it can endlessly be discussed. We are going to talk about material vocation and calling. The question is so deeply perplexing, vague and obscure any specialist will find it hard to make head or tail of it. Therefore, it’s necessary to carry out testing of consciousness every time when it comes to job choice and all the more so, its change; domicile change or any other major life change that requires independent decision-making. Never think that everything is simple and clear. This is one of the most complex areas of consultancy practice, which makes it all too easy to make a mistake and bear a life-long responsibility for that.
We know perfectly well that neither change in activity can 100% ensure increase in prosperity or enhancement of any other aspect of life. It’s not so much dependent on specific current circumstances as prarabdha-karma of a person, his/her past. Yes, efforts can help solve part of a problem, but not the whole problem. For example, if the freight elevator is turned off and you need to carry stuff to the 22th floor, you’ll certainly manage to get some of the things up but not all, and even movers won’t agree to.
Basically, one way to make money isn’t better than the other, provided that more or less all of our skills and strengths are put to work. As is said in the poem,
“Keep it well in heart:
All jobs are fine for you:
For your own taste”
In other words, it is our taste that enables us to engage all our skills and stamina. Think of how much we can eat if the dish is enjoyable, and how little if it’s disgusting! And so, if we expect a miracle from job change but don’t consider our tastes and preferences, it’s better not to hope for a miracle. We may switch jobs, but our karma might not change. Our taste will remain the same, and it’s entirely possible that new working conditions won’t suit it. This means that the “dish” will be more expensive, there will be more of it; it will be made of rare and expensive food items, but it won’t necessarily taste delicious for us.
Therefore, the first and last rule, very simple and at the same time very complicated, is the following. Change jobs (or anything else) if the changes you make meet your tastes and preferences. You should be ready to do a new job even if it pays lower wages than your previous job and you have to face more responsibilities at the same time. Things may not work out the way you expected, but if you’re ready to welcome that because you have a real taste for something you switch over to, this is the sign of your true calling.
Prarabdha-karma manifests directly in this life; it always plays up to our desires in fanciful ways.
A new job offers a huge amount of money, better conditions and new perspectives, but don’t you fall for it: it’s not going to do your bidding. Prarabdha-karma is a glitter. Yet not only diamonds or gold emanate glitter. Glitter may come off dirty broken glass or a bottle cap, as well. Don’t believe the glitter. This advertisement trick has been around for a long time. Gifting a cheap thing wrapped up in a bright package is considered a good gift. But the package will be thrown away, and it may well be that the gift also will have to be thrown away thereon. Hence, the saying “All is not gold that glitters” eminently suits prarabdha-karma and material illusion.
Giving us the opportunity to experience new feelings first, it gradually leads to the same level of prosperity we had before, or even lower. Yes, we can get a higher paying job, but it doesn’t mean the prosperity level will be higher because we can’t foresee the changes in our expenditure level. We don’t unwrap a bright package at once, although we believe there’s a precious thing inside. We may be quite astonished after calculating the balance between our new income and expense, seeing that things remained the same or even got worse. It looks as though we moved from one storey to another in the same house. Yes, the view from the window got more interesting, and a new apartment became brighter, but it has the same number of rooms as the previous one. All the more so, the city district hasn’t changed. On the other hand, we haven’t noticed elevator- and water service interruptions up until recently. But now, every time we climb the stairs, we have to jealously walk on foot past the floor we used to live on before. Thus, another saying “bargained one trouble for another” is also very much to the point in our lecture on prarabdha-karma.
So let’s go back to our rule: to be prepared for this crafty display of illusion, we should have determination not to quit a new job even if it turns out that the income level will be lower, while occupation and responsibility levels will be higher. The purpose of karma is to show us our weak point, the level of consciousness at which we’re going to break down, the point about which we’re not sober and realistic enough. There’s an interesting parable on this subject. It is called “The Price of a Monk”.
Once there was a smuggler who, being afraid of political raids, addressed a well-known monk with a request to hide the smuggled goods in his monastery. He thought the police wouldn’t suspect a priest as he had impeccable reputation.
The monk responded with indignation and demanded that the man leave the monastery at once.
“I’ll give you $ 100 000 for your graciousness,” promised the smuggler.
The monk tarried before repulsing a request again.
“$ 200 000–”
The monk denied the request as before.
“$ 500000 –”
Just then the monk snatched a stick and yelled,
“Get out of my sight! You got way too close to my price!”
As you may understand, the above-mentioned rule applies to any kind of changes we introduce in life. You can easily change your place of residence, but be ready that it may turn out even worse than the previous one. Neighbors can be more insufferable, weather and climate worse, transport less handy. It’s possible that you face water, electricity and elevator problems more often.
We can change anything without ado if we are prepared for the fact that it can bring more problems than what we abandon. Abandoning what is given by destiny is punishable by the destiny itself. Our destiny gives us self-improvement opportunities, but we don’t want to use them. We build our own plans, which we think are better and more sensible than that laid by destiny. Why should I be a locksmith? I want to choose the destiny of a minister…
The scary secret of prarabdha-karma is that the destinies of a locksmith, a minister and a billionaire are not much different from one another. Destiny has just one single purpose: to show a person a lack of relatedness between external achievements and inner happiness. It’s just that, to understand this, some have to pass the test of a locksmith, others – the test of a minister and still others – the test of a billionaire. But the principle is the same; it is called “respective trial”. The one who has desires for $100 will have to undergo a $100 trial of destiny. Another one, who has desires for a billion dollars, will have to undergo a corresponding trial. Look at the ants: one ant carries a small breadcrumb, another ant – a big one. But are their destinies too different? In just the same way, there’s not much difference between a pauper and a billionaire, the haves and have-nots. We just confuse our happiness with the size of a crumb we have found.
Everyone will have to confront challenges correspondent to their wishes. One person will be thrashed because he/she earns a scanty pittance, while another will be thrashed because he/she earns a fortune. But ultimately, everyone will lose everything. We’ll not be able to retain anything in our possession since nothing in this world belongs to us. Therefore, those will make the best of a bad bargain who will persevere in their activity even if it doesn’t provide any yield or benefit at all. This is the precondition for gaining happiness from material calling. Karma also operates under the same principle of action and reaction. Conduct a simple test: imagine that every night you are given money for nothing, regardless of what you’ve been doing during the day. What will you choose to occupy yourself with? This is exactly your vocation!
In the eastern philosophy, this destiny principle is known as a “handclap effect”. Once one of the sages was asked, “If two philosophical statements contradict each other, which one of them should be chosen?”
The sage replied, “They contradict only if they are considered separately from each other. If you watch the hands while making a clap, it will seem as if they are moving in opposition to each other. But if you focus only on the movement, you won’t notice what has really happened. Naturally, the purpose of “opposing movements” was to strike hands together. Similarly, contradictions in the scriptures should be viewed as parts of a single whole. One should try to understand what kind of logical problem in our consciousness this “clap” is meant to destroy. To understand spiritual logic, indeed, one should rise above material logic, and it can be destroyed only by the “clap of contradictions”.
Seeing all his/her efforts destroyed by destiny, a person begins to realize that there’s nothing more important than inner happiness that should be independent of external material conditions. We’ll continue to undergo such trials of life until we realize the difference between material happiness and spiritual. The best training is to make changes while being prepared to continue to act in new circumstances even if everything turns out a lot worse than it was before. This is a good way to see into the laws of happiness and work out personality traits indispensable for spiritual growth.
In such a state of consciousness, it’s possible to make it through any changes, which can really be drastic as long as one enters the transitional period of prarabdha-karma. It happens several times over the course of a life-time. But only a professional consultant can give a clue about the direction of those changes. It’s extremely hard to figure it out on your own. Therefore, in most cases the best thing is to use the guidelines we discussed today. In case you want to know more, become professional consultants.
 Translator’s Note: Lines from the poem for children “Whom Shall I Be?” by the prominent Russian writer Vladimir Mayakovsky.