Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Career
Career & support
Most of the work on support happens on issues involving other people or careers or interests. Many of your problems with people and relationships have to do with this issue of support. Many of your hurts, many of your rejections, and much of your anger and hatred have to do with these issues. You interact with someone, something happens and you feel you are not supported. Someone says something and you feel they are taking away your support. They might or might not have intended to take your support away. Either way, one of the deepest attacks is when someone says or does something that takes away your support. You might experience something real and tell it to your friend and your friend misinterprets it. They think it means something else. You might feel hurt and experience what has happened as a loss of support. You feel undermined. This happens a lot. It can happen on all levels and in very subtle ways. It is tricky. Little things can have devastating consequences. You can have an interaction with someone or an interaction with the environment that seems to be unimportant, and for a whole week afterward you realize you are feeling lost and you don’t know why. When you trace it back, you remember that a certain person looked at you in a way that indicated she didn’t appreciate you when you were being yourself and that brought about the emptiness, the hole of support. Little by little your external supports will drop away. And as external supports drop away you will feel more and more alone. Feeling alone means that you are integrating your own support. You do not need external support. You do not need props. One of the supports that might fall away in the beginning might be your career. Your career might support your sense of identity and your sense of value, so at some point you have to become free from it.
Career and quest for meaning
In order to feel that what we are doing is significant, we cling to an ideal, project perfection on the future, and work toward it.
So the quest for significance, for the feeling that the life we are living is worthwhile, is the real basis of all our dreams. When you join a Work group, your ideal might become self-realization. This is still something you are working toward to give you meaning. A career might serve this function for a person, or it can be a relationship, or a lover. It can be a creative or artistic activity or project. Exercising any of one’s capacities—thinking capacities, physical capacities, creative capacities—can serve our quest for meaning.
What I’m talking about is not unusual or hidden. If you ask someone, “What does your career give you?” he is likely to say, “Oh, it gives me excitement, a sense of purpose in my life.” This is what people believe; it is what is accepted in our society.
Richness is here, now
The hidden richness that rests in our life, in our heart, in our experience is here—not over there, in some better life, in some other house, in some other career, in some other relationship or country or spiritual school. One time, perhaps, we actually knew that—and then we forgot. From time to time, we are reminded by others of that richness, or we rediscover it ourselves. But over and over, we forget.
The personal life
If you look at your experience here in terms of essential realization, what you will see in the approach to our Work is transcendence followed by embodiment. This is what is sometimes called death and rebirth; death is transcendence and the rebirth is embodiment. In embodiment, the personality itself becomes permeable, and thus it is influenced by the essential realization. True essential personal life becomes possible only when essential realization permeates the personality so that you are living according to your realization. You have a personal, practical life—relationships, career, interests, things you enjoy doing, things you don’t want to do. You’re still a person, not just a disembodied spirit.