“Every endeavor is covered by some sort of fault, just as fire is covered by smoke. Therefore one should not give up the work which is born of his nature, O son of Kunti, even if such work is full of fault.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.48)
सह-जं कर्म कौन्तेय
स-दोषम् अपि न त्यजेत्
सर्वारम्भा हि दोषेण
saha-jaṁ karma kaunteya
sa-doṣam api na tyajet
sarvārambhā hi doṣeṇa
Be someone else for a day. Trade places. Out of the current setting and into something new. It can’t be as bad as it is right now. The grass is greener on the other side; at least that is the hope. Once I finally move on, I can tell off the people I am leaving behind. I will never have to see them again.
But not so fast. The new setting could bring similar problems. Unfamiliar faces in the beginning, but mortal enemies soon thereafter. All smiles and laughs on day one, and avoiding like the plague after a year or so.
1. Computer programmer
“Accept the assignment and get to work. Little time wasted in boring meetings. I am not expected to have strong communications skills. I am not much one for chit-chat. Let me do my work and leave me alone. Then everyone will be happy.
“Of course, there are unforeseen issues. I am staring at a computer monitor the entire day. Pretty soon I get diagnosed with something called ,‘dry eye.’ Who ever heard of that before? The immediate impact is that I have to wear glasses; no more contact lenses.
“The other negative is that I am not outside. What is the difference between my life and being sentenced to prison? At least you don’t have the pressure to meet deadlines while incarcerated. Fixing a bug with a production application is no picnic, let me tell you. Few people could withstand that kind of pressure.”
2. Military personnel
“I will defend my country. No worrying about the bottom line of running a business. No advanced degree required. Utilize my natural skill. I tend to be fearless, especially in emergency situations. I think I am cut out for this, better than some.
“There is the glaring negative, though. I might have to kill people. End another person’s life. Military conflict is a risky business. Nothing is guaranteed. Lengthy deployments, which translate to significant time away from friends and family.“
3. Coal Miner
“The industry is getting a bad reputation lately. It is a good and steady paying job in the area. So many people here are involved in it. Generations within the same family, proud of what they do. A primary energy source for many parts of the world. People are quick to use the apps on their technology to denounce this and that, but they forget the trying effort that went into the discovery process. They ignore what was needed to support the societies which brought about those innovations.
“Yes, there is the major downside. You are spending the entire day underneath the ground. Forget sunlight, you are lucky to get any light at all. The slightest misstep and your life can be in danger. It is something like being condemned to the hellish region, but prior to death.”
4. School teacher
“I would like to instruct others. I still think back to the lessons taught by some of the best teachers I had while growing up. They may not remember me, but I can never forget them. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a similar influence on someone else? Especially with regards to important knowledge, instruction that serves as foundational building blocks towards a better future, I would like to pass that on.
“There are a few downsides. The pay isn’t great, but I am not really in it for the money. You could be stuck with a class that simply does not pay attention; unruly. Students from uncultured families, where basic values aren’t taught. Then your school day focuses on survival rather than progress.”
“This isn’t really an occupation, though it is a designation in terms of job category. This is hopefully the end of working. No more stressing out to make the morning commuter train. No more having to listen to the irrational chastisement from the higher ups. No more worrying about losing your job.
“The downside, however, is the increased potential for idleness. In other words, I will need something to do. If I am sitting in front of the television all day, I could end up with depression. Thus the lack of work I so desperately craved ends up hurting me significantly.”
Shri Krishna makes the comparison to fire. It is always covered by some degree of smoke. The relation is to occupation. No matter which one we choose, there is always some kind of blemish. Better to not jump from this and that. Stay with the one that you are best suited for.
The context of that discussion was the military man named Arjuna wanting to accept the occupation of an advanced brahmana, who in that time period gives up the working world and retreats to the forest for meditation and contemplation.
What overly stressed person hasn’t entertained this idea at least once in their lives? Official vacation time is for recharging the system, for temporarily escaping the stresses of daily life, to hopefully return a new person, with a different outlook.
Krishna’s presentation is geared towards an equivalence between the different occupations. This is with respect to spiritual life. The type of work does not matter so much. Arjuna could be firing arrows on the battlefield and be just as much in yoga as the person sitting on the floor in the mountain-cave.
This is especially beneficial in the present age of Kali-yuga. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada strongly recommends the chanting of the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
In most cases this gets a higher priority than lecturing or philosophical discourse, because hardly anyone has the time. Who is fortunate enough to question the reason for their existence or to examine the faults in their daily habits? Chant the holy names, be rescued by a mantra, and find yoga, even if you weren’t explicitly looking for it.
Even if not officially to look,
Sacred sound a secret hook.
That in genuine yoga to be,
And from distresses be free.
Like fire from smoke emerging,
Better not from occupation diverging.
With yoga mind proceed,
Holy names on each bead.
Categories: the five