"A revelation of insight into the foundations of human suffering & transcendence. It not only lays out essential steps for inner freedom and joy but illuminates the way to true human potential." Paul Rademacher, author: A Spiritual Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world and practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd, author: Daring To Be Yourself

Monday, May 19, 2014

Follow Your Bliss: Perhaps Not?

Do what you love. Follow your bliss. 

I've repeated those phrases endlessly, as I am a great admirer of Joseph Campbell, Goethe, and Thoreau, yet I always felt a niggle in my gut (that's the second brain, for those of you who follow that kind of information) that something about them wasn't quite right. Because it literally meant that so many who could not - and did not - follow their bliss, were totally left out of this equation. In one of my articles (Finding a Meaning For Your Life), and in talks I've given about the subject, I would generally interject something like: 'if you're not there yet; if you're doing something you don't love, find meaning and purpose in doing it well, in deriving satisfaction from a job well done, as opposed to actually following your bliss, and as you do your job well - even if you're sweeping streets (my apologies to street sweepers, lest it sounds as though your work is a lowly job - yours is an honorable task, thanks to which we may walk through clean and dust-free streets) - and know that you would much prefer to be doing something else, then utilize your free time well to prepare yourself for another kind of activity in order that at some point in the future, you may move towards it.

So I was very gratified to find two recent articles in Slate (here is a slightly expanded version in the Jacobin magazine) and the NY Times that dealt precisely with this topic. 

Gordon Marino (author of the piece in the NY Times) writes: "The universally recognized paragons of humanity — the Nelson Mandelas, Dietrich Bonhoeffers and Martin Luther Kings — did not organize their lives around self-fulfillment and bucket lists. They, no doubt, found a sense of meaning in their heroic acts of self-sacrifice, but they did not do what they were doing in order to achieve that sense of meaning. They did — like my father and some of those kids from town — what they felt they had to do."

So doing what you feel you have to do may occasionally be connected to 'doing what you love (DWYL)', but most frequently arises more from a need: whether that need is to earn money and feed the family or to change an injustice.

And Marino states: "Our desires should not be the ultimate arbiters of vocation. Sometimes we should do what we hate, or what most needs doing, and do it as best we can."

Because of course, sometimes doing what we hate, is simply what we have to do. I've been there on several occasions in my life and know whereof I speak. Jobs that left me numb, work for which I had not one iota of interest. And yet I persevered. Why? Because I had no other choice. That doesn't mean I wasn't busy planning ways to move elsewhere work-wise, but while I held those jobs, I did them as well as I could. That - if nothing else - was my main satisfaction.

Miya Tokumitsu (author of the pieces in Slate & the Jacobin magazine) writes: "...with the vast majority of workers effectively invisible to elites busy in their lovable occupations, how can it be surprising that the heavy strains faced by today’s workers—abysmal wages, massive child care costs, etc.—barely register as political issues even among the liberal faction of the ruling class?

Damning words indeed!
And she doesn't stop there. "In ignoring most work and reclassifying the rest as love, DWYL may be the most elegant anti-worker ideology around. Why should workers assemble and assert their class interests if there’s no such thing as work? If we believe that working as a Silicon Valley entrepreneur or a museum publicist or a think-tank acolyte is essential to being true to ourselves, what do we believe about the inner lives and hopes of those who clean hotel rooms and stock shelves at big-box stores? The answer is: nothing."

So it appears we need to rethink our stance on following our bliss. (In some twisted way it reminds me of those who espouse the law of attraction as a be-all and end-all for endless abundance and success, without bothering to think of the fact that it was never meant to signify that you would receive without ever giving AKA 'working' on your side of the equation in order to bring about whatever you were seeking).

Tokumitsu adds a final thrust: "Yet another damaging consequence of DWYL is how ruthlessly it works to extract female labor for little or no compensation. Women comprise the majority of the low-wage or unpaid workforce; as care workers, adjunct faculty, and unpaid interns, they outnumber men. What unites all of this work, whether performed by GEDs or Ph.D.s, is the belief that wages shouldn’t be the primary motivation for doing it. Women are supposed to do work because they are natural nurturers and are eager to please; after all, they’ve been doing uncompensated child care, elder care, and housework since time immemorial. And talking money is unladylike anyway."

Clearly, 'doing what you love' (DWYL) is not as easily done as said. Nor is it a clear-cut proposition that supercedes the other option. I am reminded of two Zen Buddhist aphorisms that offer excellent advice for those immersed in work they do not love, those others who are actively involved in seeking it, and those who believe they have found it:
  • To conquer oneself is a greater task than conquering others
  • We are shaped by our thought; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves
This inner part that both quotes refer to, has so much more to do with your state of bliss no matter what you do.

Also visit my new website: www.gabriellakortsch.com where you may download excerpts or read quotations from any of my books.

Books by Dr. Gabriella Kortsch:

Rewiring the Soul

Click here to download the first chapter.
To see the Table of Contents click here

Reviews From the Back Cover:

"The masterwork of a profoundly gifted healer of the soul. Dazzling, challenging, wondrously useful." Peggy Rubin, Director, Center for Sacred Theatre, Ashland, Oregon; author: To Be and How To Be, Transforming Your Life Through Sacred Theatre

"Rewiring the Soul is one the best introductions to the spiritual life I've ever read. Not esoteric but real-world & practical. The implications are profound." Peter Shepherd; Founder Trans4mind.com; author: Daring To Be Yourself 

"The human being's directory to the soul. A breakthrough for those seeking practical assistance, those of a more mystical bent & every soul awaiting discovery." Toni Petrinovich, Ph.D.; author: The Call: Awakening the Angelic Human

The Tao of Spiritual Partnership

To download the first chapter, click here
To see the Table of Contents click here

Praise for The Tao of Spiritual Partnership

“All humans seek the illusive touch of another's Soul, which opens us to the sense of belonging to something bigger than the self. Dr. Kortsch has given us the true "tao" of relationship in this brilliant exploration of emotional tapestry. We will be grateful for this illumination of spiritual partnership for generations to come."
Chris Griscom: Spiritual Leader, Author (among others) of: Ecstasy is a New Frequency

“Eloquent and comprehensive, showing how your primary love relationship may be a sacred vessel that transports you and your partner to a place of mutual healing and expansion.” 

Robert Schwartz: Author of Your Soul’s Gift: The Healing Power of the Life You Planned Before You Were Born 

The Power of Your Heart: Loving the Self 

My new book: The Power of Your Heart: Loving the Self, is just out. Click here to download an excerpt. 

From the Introduction: It is your right to live a life of love. It is your right to understand that loving yourself first is not a selfish way of behavior, but one that allows you to live that life of love. However, it's highly probable that you never got the instruction manual explaining exactly how to accomplish this. Possibly your family - and it may have been a loving family - considered loving the self an act of selfishness. Or perhaps the members of your family simply didn't practice loving the self, and of course, what you didn't see - what was not shown to you - while you were growing up, meant that you just didn't learn how to apply it to yourself. The closer you are able to move towards loving yourself, the closer you will be to living a life of love - quite independently of whether you are in a love relationship or not. A life of love can be lived with or without a partnership, because a life of love implies that you know that it all begins with you by loving the self. The more clearly you understand how to love yourself, the more clearly you will see that it is very hard - if not impossible - to love others in ways that are unrelated to fulfilling any of your needs. Loving yourself first is - for so many of us - one of the hardest things we will ever learn how to do. But know this: the benefits affect you in every particle of your being - body, mind, and soul - and are greater than you will ever be able to imagine.

Note: If you are wondering why this blog is now only appearing on alternate days (excluding Sat/Sun), it is because I also post on my other blog on the others days. That other blog is The Tao of Spiritual Partnership, so named for another one of my books. Click here to visit the blog and/or to sign up for the feed.

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