Follow Your True Calling And Do No Harm
Question: Why is it important to follow our true callings or use the gifts we incarnate with, even if we are working full time in areas that sustain us financially but drain us spiritually? What happens if this conflict cannot be resolved?
Answer: There are scientists who say that this is all a glorious accident, but according to the yogic teaching none of us is here by accident. When we are born, we are born for a purpose, for a reason. We are born in order to learn some karmic lessons. Most of the time these lessons are about relationships and, generally speaking, concern either wisdom or love.
When we come here to have these relationships and learn these things, we are born with a vocation for this life. Actually, we have two types of vocations, or purposes. There is a relative vocation – for example a person is born to be a doctor, or an artist, or a soccer player, a poet, an engineer. It is a relative vocation but still it is very important. We also have an ultimate purpose, which is to realize the Self. We are all born in order to realize Ultimate Truth. All of us. No exceptions.
Each one of us has a relative purpose and an ultimate purpose, and it is very important to follow both of them. For instance, there are certain points in our lives where we make choices. If we don’t make the right choices, we are going to be sorry later on. Sometimes people come to a yoga center and suddenly realize that they have been yogis for many, many lives. They realize they were born to be a yogi but somehow, at a certain point in life, they made a wrong choice. Now what can they do? They cannot reverse things without hurting others, so they are very sorrowful. However, they can still be a yogi without hurting others.
Let’s say there is a mother, and she has children. What is she supposed to do when she realizes she was born in order to be a swami? Should she abandon her children? Absolutely not; this would be adharma, or unrighteous. A mother should take care of her children. However, even while she is a mother, a householder, she can live like a sannyasin. This means that even though a person knows she was born for a life of renunciation, she renounces it, although it is very painful, in order not to abandon her duty as, for example, a mother. Some people don’t have the possibility or the courage to reverse course, and other people do. But even if you cannot reverse things, you can still somehow fulfill your vocation if you know how to do it. Sometimes we discover that we are yogis at a very late stage in life. Let it be so. There is no late stage in the life of a yogi. There is no such thing.
This doesn’t just happen with yogis. There are people who are born in order to be healers, and instead choose to become engineers. Then at a late stage of life they become very sorry. If this happens to you, please don’t be sorry. No regrets. Just do your level best wherever you are – because it may happen. Suddenly you realize, what did I do with my life? What did I do with it? If so, don’t hurt other people. In yoga, the highest dharma is ahimsa or non-violence, not hurting others.
Swami Swaroopananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda. A practicing yogi from a very young age, Swami Swaroopananda has dedicated his life to the practice and teaching of yoga. He taught in Yoga Teacher Training Courses around the world and is currently teaching advanced yoga philosophy courses and lectures internationally. He is Director of the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat and acharya (spiritual director) for the Sivananda centers and ashrams in the Bahamas and the Middle East. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.