How to Find Spiritually Uplifting Work


I’ve had it with the 'job world.' Selfish and ego-environments everywhere; it is next to impossible to be openly spiritual because any personality differences against the 'norm' can be used against you. They don’t even need a good reason to fire you — you know how it is! I want to work (not retire to the forest), but I need ideas. How do spiritual people make a living independently? I know some live in communities and work together, but if I can’t do that yet, what are other ideas?

—Rush, USA


Dear Friend,

Your dilemma is a complex one because in rejecting the ego-affirming negativity that you have experienced in the workplace you reveal your own karmic potential for being drawn repeatedly to such circumstances until you no longer react or reject.

And yet, to desire a more harmonious environment and work that is spiritually rewarding and serviceful is also right for a devotee.

Thus, you are potentially caught between two worlds. Further, by also rejecting the possibility that you could work with spiritually minded people (not sure why you feel this is so, you didn’t say) you all but guarantee your spiritual tests with negativity are far from over!

[Just to say it: there are lots of non-profit organizations where you “might” find people more idealistically inclined. The dilemma need not be framed in the extremes between ruthless competition on the one hand and living in an intentional community on the other hand! By so doing, again, you guarantee that your issue will be perpetuated!]

The solution is, as often is the case, not a complex one, assuming you really do not have or see how, where, or with whom you could serve in a more spiritually uplifted service job. It goes something like this:

1. It is a spiritual test to be placed or drawn karmically to a work environment where competition and negativity appear to abound. This you must accept if you really want to change your karma. It IS your karma, make no doubt about it. So the issue is NOT “How bad these people are and why don’t they change?” but, paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi, “How can I be the change that I seek (in others)?”

2. The spiritual challenge you face is to accept any circumstance (that you cannot otherwise improve) with equanimity and cheerfulness. There’s nothing that says you have to engage in negativity at work. Ok, so you get fired. Not the end of the world. Your test is to quietly and unobtrusively stay centered in your Self; to act, speak, and think positively, kindly, calmly, and lovingly (where appropriate to do so); to accept others as they are (this does not mean being a doormat); to love others as fellow souls and children of God.

3. There is no need or value in being “openly” spiritual. Being spiritual means, so far as behavior is concerned in environments that do not support being “openly” spiritual, being calm; kind, even-minded, fair, wise, creative, and cheerful. That’s it. Inwardly you can pray to God; inwardly, you can chant; inwardly you can bless people, even those who dislike or talk against you (see the words of Jesus re turning the other cheek).

4. When you have passed this test I promise you your environment will change, perhaps even suddenly. It all depends on how deeply and well you pass the test. Very simple, if very difficult to do it. That’s why it’s called a test!

5. Caution: when assailed by false accusations, humiliated, or made fun of, or otherwise treated badly, you are not to be a doormat. The line between not engaging in office politics and being “spiritual” is not so black and white. “Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves,” Jesus said. There may be times when you do calmly stand up for yourself. There may be times when you are criticized: mostly you can just ignore those, or say, “Maybe you are right” and leave it at that. (Then introspect as to whether the accusation is even somewhat true and do you best to reform, but otherwise don’t cave in to someone who berates or belittles you.)

I would, lastly, however, ask you to introspect whether and why you stated that you have NO opportunity to be with spiritually minded co-workers. I detect here the possibility of something not helpful to you in that statement. Is it unwillingness? Fear? Remember that it’s easier to judge others than to reform yourself.

Train your mind and heart to feel and sometimes express gratitude and appreciation to others for their innate, or even just their potential, goodness. See God in all and accept His tests with wisdom. (Wisdom means even-mindedness, gratitude, and cheerfulness.)

Go with joy into the world as a Peaceful Warrior, not fighting the world, but negativity in yourself.

Nayaswami Hriman