“Anyone who does not follow the surrendering process but is simply interested in an academic career cannot make any advancement. His profit is only his labor for nothing. If one is expert in the study of the Vedas but does not surrender to a spiritual master or Vishnu, all his cultivation of knowledge is but a waste of time and labor.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Chaitanya Charitamrita, Adi 17.257 Purport)
In industrialized nations, the prime focus for the child maturing through the traditional education system is finding a career path. What are they most passionate about? In which area of interest do they derive the most joy? “What do you want to do when you grow up?” is the typical question asked of the young student. Bhakti-yoga, being the constitutional occupation of the spirit soul, not surprisingly gives the best career path. It allows for a blissful engagement during any stage of life. And since bhakti-yoga is ahaituki and apratihata, its exercise is not dependent on outside factors like net worth or personal ability.
Ahaituki means causeless or without motivation. Apratihata is without interruption. We do everything with a motive in mind. We study hard in school in order to earn a good grade. Good grades help us to reach the next destination, either graduation or entry into a higher learning establishment. Then we go to work in order to earn a paycheck. When the desired object is achieved, there is interruption. We stop playing in the tournament once we win. If we’re the champion, there isn’t a match tomorrow. We will have to wait for the next time around, when we will have a new desire.
When personal motivation is lacking, you automatically get the opportunity to continue without interruption. The question would be why would you want something like this. Only if you are satisfied in the self, at the spiritual level, would you ever think of doing something over and over again, lifetime after lifetime. God is the Supreme Self, so satisfying Him automatically satisfies the individual self.
The elders advise us to look for a career mostly so that we’ll have something worthwhile to do in adulthood. The career is not necessary for eating. The animals don’t have careers. They don’t go to school. And somehow they eat just fine. The human being can at worst case grab the fruits that fall off of a tree and thus find nourishment. This isn’t the preferred route, but still there is the chance to eat regardless of occupation.
With the career comes the inevitable retirement, where you will once again have to find something to do. In bhakti-yoga that problem is solved. Every day there is something worthwhile to accomplish. In the sadhana stage, there are many regulative principles to respect. The sadhaka ideally starts their day by chanting on their japa beads. On each bead in the string of 108, they recite the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
Then there is worship of God in His deity form, which can be installed easily in the home. If one likes, they can visit a formal house of worship to accomplish the same. Then there is describing the glories of God to others. Known as kirtana, this can take place through congregational chanting of the holy names, distribution of works of literature that glorify God, or just having a discussion with another person. After all, there is no shortage of discussion of the mundane. One second the head of state is praised and the next he is criticized. One second everyone loves a particular athlete for performing well and the next everyone is calling for his retirement.
Everything in the material world comes and goes, but God is here to stay. His features are inexhaustible. If a picture is worth a thousand words, His image is worth an infinite amount. And all those words are in pure goodness, shuddha sattva. As there is no end to His glories, there is no end to the work in bhakti-yoga. Whereas one can change careers due to waning interest, in bhakti-yoga practiced properly the enthusiasm only increases. “Ever-increasing” is the way to describe the holy land that is the residence of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. Since a replica of that same land gets created wherever bhakti-yoga is found, the property of ever-increasing emerges as well, solving the career problem once and for all.
“But what if I don’t want to worship God? Why do I have to make bhakti-yoga my career? How is it going to pay the bills?”
Bills there will be. Fear over the future is inevitable. Yet the dying man no longer worries over such trivial matters. He remembers not the many bills he had to pay or the time he spent worrying over them. Rather, he remembers the good moments, the quality time in his life, where he was able to offer and share love. Then he wonders where he will go next, if he will get rewarded in the afterlife.
Bhakti-yoga leaves so many lasting memories. It is the daily exercise of unbridled love, made open to any and all. It can be practiced whether there is a little money in the bank account or a lot. As long as there is the life breath within, the living entity has an opportunity for bhakti. They get the chance to work day after day, and since their consciousness becomes so pure, they think of the Supreme Lord at the time of death. He is the best person to think of at any time, but especially while quitting the body.
In school sharpening the mind,
Now focus on career to find.
In adulthood what to do,
So that hungry won’t be you.
Bhakti-yoga career path the best,
Eternal occupation, unlike the rest.
There for all, whether dumb or smart,
From routine of chanting holy names start.