“There is no need of material qualifications for making progress on the path of spiritual realization. In the material world, when one accepts some particular type of service, he is required to possess some particular type of qualification also. Without this one is unfit for such service. But in the devotional service of the Lord the only qualification required is surrender.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 2.7.46 Purport)
It’s time to look for a new job. Either you’re no longer pleased at the place you currently work or necessity dictates that you must move on to somewhere else. Ah, but changing may not be so easy. You have to look for an open position and then interview for it. The employers aren’t necessarily seeking someone who is loyal, dependable, and can learn new things quickly. They’d rather have someone who is supremely skilled in the area of interest, someone who can take the ball and run with it on day one. Because of this requirement, they will grill prospective candidates, eliminating them based on any perceived flaw. Thus the positions sometimes remain unfilled due to the requirements. A lack of qualified candidates will be the reason given by the employers for the persistent vacancy, while the workers are left to keep looking in hopes of finding that perfect slot.
In devotional life, which features the purified version of everything, including work, there is one position that is always open. For each individual this spot is available, and just because one person takes it up doesn’t mean that others are eliminated from candidacy. If there is a single pizza pie laying on the kitchen table, should someone eat the entire thing, nothing will be left for anyone else. In the realm governed by the creator of spirit and matter, there are no such hard and fast rules. One minus one can equal three when it comes to His rules, and so a singular position becomes multiple through His will.
Yet the issue is that no one wants to fill the position. Its qualifications aren’t too stringent either. If you’re looking for a job in technology, you will likely get a technical interview prior to being added on. The questions can range from the basics on the subject to the deepest nuances of the programming language or piece of technology you are purportedly familiar with. You may have used that technology every day for the past many years, but if you don’t know the answers to the questions asked of you, the employer will think that you are not capable.
The screening process with the position offered by the wealthiest person in the world is not so stringent. He simply asks that you have a desire to offer time, to lend an ear to transcendental topics in a submissive mood. Who isn’t qualified for this? A child lends time to hearing by watching children’s television series like Sesame Street and Barney. The retired person also spends much time in front of the television, watching and hearing. Why then shouldn’t they take a position that pays the most in return, that allows you to work from home, in the car, on the road, or at the office? Why wouldn’t you want to take this wonderful job that is unbelievably rewarding at the same time?
So why does no one accept this position? The issue boils down to ownership. The living being would rather falsely think they are the owners of everything, including their fate. Though the flaw of this reasoning is exposed in every step in life, still the belief is there that through just enough manipulation of matter the proper conditions can be found. “Let me work for x number of years so that I can sit down and retire after that. Let me earn some more money so that I won’t have to worry about anything ever again.”
Yet to pursue those goals one must work for a living, which involves serving a higher entity. The person may not be any better than you are, but in the realm of business they are in the superior position and you are in the inferior one. Even the owner of the company has to provide service to the customers, be they people in a store or a large business interested in purchasing the product or service offered. Thus there is no question of full autonomy. Rather, there is complete reliance on the efforts of others. Through the illusion fostered by material nature, the living being doesn’t recognize this fact, that they are forced to accommodate the direction of other people who may or may not have their best interests at heart.
Taking the position with the highest living being is also difficult because not much is known about Him, at least in the beginning. There are competing and sometimes contradicting visions of the Supreme Lord, and they don’t all portray Him to be nice. Sometimes He is depicted as angry and vengeful, while other times His personality is denied. “If you do worship a God, perhaps you should dedicate your life to praying for things. Instead of relying on your bosses and customers to give you happiness, run to the house of worship and pray as sincerely as you can.”
Yet the true position of the Supreme Personality has no relation to these things. The job He has open is not for securing the necessities of life which are already provided to the lower species like the animals. The living entities are naturally prone to working. There is a vibrant spirit within each entity for a reason. With that active spirit comes a potential for action, which produces fruits. Instead of toiling to get temporary rewards that are short-lived in the happiness they provide, why not take to a lifetime engagement that you are already qualified for?
That full-time role is known as servant of God. One accepts the position by first hearing about it. Lend an ear to transcendental discourses about Bhagavan, whose original form is so attractive that He is addressed as Krishna. Krishna is the origin of life and matter, the supreme enjoyer, and the best friend of the living entities. Working with your friends is not always the best idea, as they can take advantage of your relationship, using it as an excuse to put in a lackluster effort. They might also get offended if you correct their mistakes using a stern tone.
Working for Krishna does not have these issues. In fact, the more you work for Him, the more your friendship with Him strengthens. In the highest state of service, the worshiper cannot be stopped from offering their love. Should Krishna desire you to cease and desist, you will continue anyway, in spite of what He says. The gopis of Vrindavana loved Krishna in this way, and He was forced to admit that there was no way for Him, the all-powerful Supreme Lord, to repay their kindness.
Hearing about Krishna plants the seed of devotion, which is then watered through actual practice of bhakti-yoga, or devotional service. This is the work portion of the position. You get hired simply by hearing, and you maintain your status as an employed worker by regularly chanting, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare”. The hours of operation are flexible, but the recommendation of the hiring manager is that you chant this mantra at least sixteen rounds a day on a set of japa beads. You pick when you want to chant, but you should nevertheless make sure that the rounds are completed each day.
During the training period, perhaps you can’t do sixteen rounds a day, but you should at least do one or two, successively adding rounds to the routine as you progress. There are also some workplace rules that you should abide by. In the office establishment perhaps you’re not allowed to go on the internet or take breaks that are too long. This is to ensure optimal working conditions, where your productivity will not be hindered. Along similar lines, to get the true effect from chanting, one should refrain from meat eating, gambling, intoxication and illicit sex.
Let’s say that you reach the threshold of sixteen rounds of chanting each day. Then what? Can you get promoted? Where do you go from there? Is there another job that you jump to? Actually, the more one practices bhakti the more they enjoy it. The more one gives service to Krishna, the more their love for Him grows. Isn’t that how an ideal job should operate? Shouldn’t you love going to work every day and miss it when you have a day off?
Shri Krishna keeps the position open, just waiting for you to fill it. A deluded consciousness stuck in an endless pit of sense gratification and fear over the temporary nature of things precludes one from voluntarily taking up service to Krishna, but at any time the necessary change in attitude can come. Therefore the exalted Vaishnava acharyas take up the difficult job of actively recruiting new employees, knowing full well that every person really wants to serve God, but they just may not be aware of it. Through the sound of the holy name, hearing about the Supreme Lord, the spark of devotion can be ignited, and an army of transcendentalists can soon take up their real occupational duty: devotional service.
To land a new job you may be hoping,
Have to then search for one that is open.
Candidate must be qualified for the position,
Thus grilled with questions like an inquisition.
To give right answers your hopes depend upon,
If you fail the test, chance for new job gone.
Shri Krishna keeps best job open for you,
Only requirement is hearing in right mood.
Though it’s open to all, no one seems to want it,
But take it when you’re ready, you won’t regret it.