Every day of your life you get up and "go to work." For many of us, this means going to a job at a specific place and time where we may deal with pressure, ideas, worries, habits, ambition, laziness, money, lack of money and many other things. Instead of getting caught by all these things, the mind needs to use them in an intelligent way. Instead of creating a routine that deadens the mind, an intelligent approach can revitalize your work and help you recognize your target, so that at the end of your life you know that you have lived your purpose.

When you start to look at work in the larger context – that your work has to do with becoming your real self – things start falling into place. You can see that each day offers opportunities to do the work of becoming the person you want to be, whether you are in a stressful office environment or in a relaxation class at a retreat centre. Understanding why you choose to be doing what you do can help bring meaning to your life. You may start to wonder: Why am I here? What is my real work? What am I preparing for?

In the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred teaching text that metaphorically explains action and life's work, Arjuna, the spiritual seeker, is posed in a battle against his family, friends and teachers. Arjuna is an archer, skilled in the art of hitting the target – the target of life. When he prepares to enter the battle he becomes despondent and throws down his bow. Krishna, his Divine charioteer and advisor, tells him to stand up, to act as a warrior, to do what he has to do. The message is for all of us: we have to do what we are here to do. This means facing the battlefield of daily life with the courage to do what is before us.

The bow is a very precise tool. Practice and strength are required to be skillful with a bow and arrow. Clear sight is needed to see the target without being distracted by emotions or by what surrounds the target. In a battle, your life could depend on your ability to use your bow. In daily life, your spiritual purpose depends on your ability to use your intelligence.

As humans, we have been given the gift of intelligence. In order to understand the situations we are engaged in, we must pick up this precise tool of intelligence and use it.

What is the symbolic message in your work? What is being offered that can help you understand what you need to work through in this life?

The hidden messages of your work start to be revealed when you look at your actions, your intentions and your ideals. The meaning of your life reveals itself very precisely and uniquely in everyday situations. When you begin to reflect on these situations and develop a symbolic language, you will start to realize the different roles that you play and the different personalities that you possess.

Once you become an active participant in your own life, you have to confront all the personality aspects that helped you survive in the past. When you see your life as something you have created, you must accept responsibility for it. You will start to recognize that you have exactly what you need. Just as Arjuna has the bow and the skill to use it in battle, we each have our intelligence and the power of reflection to meet our challenges. All the essential ingredients are present in this mixture we call life. When we face the challenges, we are led to a connection with our higher purpose. A sense of gratitude begins to enter the mix when we recognize that the challenges are blessings in disguise.

Ask yourself: What is it I want my life to be? What atmosphere do I want to create around myself and my work? Life offers more if we have an awareness of others, and if we act with care, quality, commitment and responsibility. Intelligence can help us make changes in our attitude. Life invites challenge; for many people, the challenging situations are the ones that force them to turn to the Divine. Intelligence invites change, and it is the intelligence within you that will also help you face the next change in your life.

Many people, when overwhelmed by the challenges and changes of life, revert back to old ways of coping. Like Arjuna, they become despondent, throw down what they know and ask: What am I to do?

You must use your intelligence to face the difficult situations. The ability to reflect on daily events and activities will allow you to gain an understanding of how the rest of your life can be lived with purpose and a commitment to the highest intelligence.
Swami Radhananda is president and spiritual director of Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada.

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