A reader posted the following question:
How and when do we get confused on our calling? How do we differentiate between a real calling and a desired way of living? What if the desired path or way of living is not meant for you? Then why do we get such a strong feeling that we should take a step forward. When you say that your decision taken in the present reflects your future – how do we relate to this? Please explain.
When there is any confusion, it is not a real calling.
What is the difference between real thirst and illusory thirst? Real thirst can only be curbed for a short period whereas an illusory one disappears as soon as you are able to take your mind off it. When the calling is real, the decision is barely and rarely in the hands of the one ordained. Nature will automatically drag that person into their natural playfield.
A true calling is never a product of the mind, whereas a desired way of living is the result of cogitation and deliberation. In the latter, one analyses a series of options available and chooses the best one. A true calling connects at a deeper level; it cedes all cogitation.
If you choose your ‘desired path’ and feel it is not for you after you have started walking it, leave your desired path. Simple! Who says that one has to stick to something for one’s whole life? A good way to test it is to start living it quietly. Live the desired way unannounced and see if this is what you want.
Take time off and live it completely for a short period first. Once you feel that this is exactly what you want, you can make your decision public. Years ago, I stumbled upon a funny yet sublime quote: “If at first you don’t succeed, don’t tell anyone.”
Treading any new path requires that one gives up the old one. Imagine climbing a staircase. At some point in time, you must completely abandon the present rung of the ladder to get to the next one. With one foot on the preceding rung and the other on the next one, it is impossible to advance. Often non-fulfillment comes when the seeker wants the best from his past with his present (read chosen) lifestyle. It does not work that way. A new lifestyle is a new lifestyle. It may not have any elements of the past.
A tamed mind finds it easy to adjust and love it whereas an outwardly focused one wants the best of both worlds. In fact, it holds true for all aspects of material life too. The mind is always making you compare your past with the present to create a picture of the future, immediate or distant.
If you are willing to relinquish — not the world but your world of desires — treading any path becomes easy. Without vairāgya (indifference and dispassion towards material comforts) it is not possible to tread any spiritual path and without abhyāsa (spiritual discipline), it is impossible to get results. The path is arduous but peerless work meets priceless rewards!