Difficult career choice


I have an important decision to make regarding my line of medical research. I am torn between the options to pursue a career in either Molecular Neuroscience or Reproduction, as both equally fascinate me. However, I want to know which course is more "dharmic" because both involve sensitive ethical issues. For instance, Repro involves playing with human life: stem cells, embryo manipulation, IVF etc. In Neuro, there is a lot of animal testing and cruelty. I realise this may be an unusual question

—Nirmal, UK


Without knowing the details of each career path, one can only give a general answer that might help guide you in the decision-making process. I’m guessing that each choice has a wide range of “dharmic” vs. “not at all dharmic” fields of research, so an absolute answer may not be possible in that regard.

(Editor’s note: “dharma” is Sanskrit for “righteousness“)

First of all, try to be guided by intuition, and not only by rational thinking and logic. Swami Kriyananda has written a book about this called Intuition for Starters.

Using your intuition is easier if you practice meditation regularly. It can also take some ‘practice’ to learn how to use your intution effectively. Here is a specific exercise from that book:

  1. Concentrate at the ajna chakra, the point between the eyebrows, which is the sending station for our thoughts. Now ask for guidance from the superconsciousness. You can send out a strong thought like, “What shall I do?”
  2. Wait for a response in the “receiving station” of intuition, the anahata or heart center. Be completely impartial, and try to feel a yes or no answer. It will become increasingly clear as you work on developing it. Sometimes that feeling will be very definite, but if it isn’t clear there are things you can do to clarify the response you’ve received. Try posing alternate solutions, and see if one feels right in your heart. Remember, the answer doesn’t come on a mental level. You can’t think yourself to it. You have to suspend thought, and get it on an intuitive level. I’ve often found that the answer will come clearly at the very end of my period of asking for guidance. Sometimes I’ll receive it days later when walking or relaxing, and not really expecting it.
  3. Finally, a problem is half-solved already once it is stated clearly. In seeking guidance, form a clear mental picture of the question you have. Then hold that picture up to the superconsciousness at the point between the eyebrows. People often struggle for a long time to find the guidance they want. No time is really needed: only sufficient mental clarity and energy.

This is only a basic technique. Further in the book Swami Kriyananda offers “subtle refinements that you need in order to practice it effectively.”

You can also be guided by the feeling you get from meeting people who practice in these fields of science, or from visiting their places of work. Does one or or the other have a ‘heavy’ feeling or a ‘lighter’ feeling?

Finally, please keep in mind that we live in the world of dwaita (duality), where there is always a mixture of good and evil. For example, we can’t drive to a church or temple without killing several bugs on the windshield! So try and choose a field that does the most good, with the least amount of harm.

I understand that all of the above is being suggested to a scientist making a very rational career choice! However, intuition, or “true feeling,” should also be an important part of your decision-making process.