Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Following a dream in the 21st Century

As everyone around us is busy exhibiting his or her professional success, we become more and more susceptible to replicating the professional decisions of others. Infatuation with traveling, global competition, parental pressures, and availability of numerous novel choices to the untrained mind may be some of the other distractions in selecting work according to our own aptitude.

Even if one has a well-defined area of interest, some skills may have turned obsolete in this age due to unavoidable influences such as automation and outsourcing. Formal training and diligence in work do not always pay off. In an environment more suited to the adaptable, the loyal can and do face many disappointments. When contribution is measured only by numbers, one may easily get persuaded to earn more at the cost of peace. But what if you have a dream that does not align with a obtaining a big bank account? What if your aspirations for being an artist or a teacher pull you towards a slower pace of life and a lower success rate? Should you still follow your dreams?

Many of us never experience a non-materialistic dream unless we couple lower levels of greed with an ability to explore what we want in life (besides money). In the way we define it, a “dream in life” is a strong inner aspiration not bound by personal profit, and merely having one is in itself a spiritual achievement. Because it is more selfless, it has to be relatively righteous. And because it is righteous, it will see support from God, who loves supporting us in righteous behaviors. With such a backing, what can go wrong in following a dream?

We have been created with inner mechanisms (our personal gifts) through which we are compelled to act in accordance with our instincts. If we have identified a void in our life arising from a mismatch of our career with our evolving instincts, only exertion in the activity of our interest can fill this void. Just like it is difficult to own a dream, it is difficult to let go of it if we possess one. However, while our deeper interests, once they are unveiled, eventually succeed in attracting us, we can temporarily turn obstinate and try to oppose the bigger plan that has instructions for our own evolution.

Even if our deeper interests are discovered late in life, more often than not our responsibilities do not allow us to follow our dreams in early life. Our affinity to profit is very strong but we can begin by spending a few moments away from our lucrative job working towards our dream. If these moments give us more peace, we will voluntarily start offering more time to these new activities. And as we taste even higher levels of happiness, we may be encouraged to reassess our professional preferences and everyday schedule for something more eternal.

Because dreams in life are guided by our true nature, following them triggers a simultaneous search for peace, which is a permanent attribute of our inner nature. If we do not feel delighted in following our dreams, we probably have not connected to a dream.

“Contribution to the world” is a vague concept in the context of spirituality. While exertion in certain areas of expertise, say technology and economics, may be labeled “more significant” by the onlooker depending upon one’s bias, their results, including all products and most discoveries, are equally perishable in time. Alternatively, after nurturing some happiness within by following our dreams, we can opt to transfer the energy of optimism from our heart to others. This propagation to others can be a more real accomplishment.

This post is my adaptation from an excerpt written by Mukul S. Goel.

Photo credits: Apt3 Photography © 2010.


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