CRAFT, LIVELIHOOD, FINANCIAL LIFE (Seekers’ Lesson 5)
Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Good day, Brothers and Sisters!
For this moment’s reflection, I would focus on the rationale behind living a prosperous socio-economic or financial life. Those with Piscean mindsets still think in terms of ‘Money versus Spirit’ dichotomy which, to my mind, is a flawed mental construct. This article will deconstruct that old fogey line, and advance the following thesis: we all deserve to live prosperous lives and reproduce in our micro-lives the abundance of the cosmos.
I will simplify my contentions by referring to the works of three (3) divine beings: Jesus, Buddha, and ‘Earth Store’ Bodhisattva. From Jesus via his apostles we will employ the aphorism “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” (see Acts of the Apostles). From Buddha we will borrow the adage “Right Livelihood!” culled from his 8-Fold Path (see Dhamapadda). From the Bodhisattva we will cull the axiological link between prosperity and good karma (see Sutras of the Earth Store Bodhisattva).
Livelihood—economic life and the institutions that arise in its fulfillment—is intended as a legitimate response to a core attribute of the human soul: craftsmanship. This trait is the 3rd Ray, the ray of art. It is wise and divine to enable all humans to practice their respective crafts. Conversely, it is foolish and evil to obstruct and bar humans from developing their crafts. Souls can only advance in the Path by each one’s filling up of shis (his/her) ‘glass of crafts’. This is the core rationale of the imperative “Right Livelihood!”
Everyone possesses abilities, a fact that Jesus and his Apostles (who were Ascended Masters) declared in the Teaching. “From each according to shis abilities” (I revised the adage a bit to include Her in the beneficiary list), says the aphorism. This line is very deep, as it is the start of economic theory. The line implies that all of us, possessing respective abilities (crafts), encounter each other with our diversity of crafts that complement each other. If we meet in a common niche, with our crafts and the products of our respective craftsmanship, than we have a ‘market’ going. Needless to say, without abilities, there will be no market at all. This Jesusian-Apostolic line is the ‘supply side’ of the economy.
Buddha’s imperative adage of “Right Livelihood” is the externalized response in fulfillment of practicing certain crafts. The word “right” implies an opposite “wrong”. It would be virtuous an act if each member of society will be provided ample opportunity to practice shis crafts, hence the term “right” in the imperative. Conversely, it would be a commission of injustice if people are compelled to practice crafts that do not cohere with what they were trained for or what they’ve mastered. And, it would be awefully wrong if individuals, due to their lack of self-motivation and drive in life, do not train in certain crafts, practice them, and earn their keep, thus rendering these persons parasites for life.
No spiritual master ever mandated that Lightworkers shouldn’t practice crafts or livelihoods, or should live extremely ascetic lives. On the contrary, they forewarned about the dangers of asceticism. Except for those persons who have declared their main tasks as praying & meditation, and who opt to live a monastic life, everyone else who is “kasinlakas ng kalabaw” (as strong as the carabao) must practice crafts and livelihoods. Anyone who is as “strong as the carabao” but who refuses to labor out of laziness and low self-motivation, whether rich or poor, will face the karmic consequences of shis misbehavior.
Let us now reflect the other side of the Jesusian-Apostolic adage, “to each according to shis needs.” This is the demand side of the economy. It is that side where various responses to the needs of people can be fulfilled through industries instituted by market players. Hereof we will take the line on the micro-level view: the level of the individual producer. If a producer practices crafts, then shis needs can be fulfilled. Since Buddha declared the imperative “Right livelihood” as sacrosanct to the Teaching, then we can integrate this into the Jesusian-Apostolic thesis to elicit the following model:
Abilities (Crafts) à Livelihood à Needs
From the foregoing model, we can see that a person possesses abilities that are translatable to crafts or professions. A person should go ahead and hone shis talents up to the greatest extent. In the emerging Post-Industrial or Information Society, it is most fitting to study up through the PhD level and post-doctoral programs, aside from attending special seminars, as strategies for enabling capability-building. In today’s development argot, it is but fitting to build up one’s own ‘human capital’, and per declaration in international treaties and agreements, the ‘right to livelihood’ must be observed by all nations. If one were to practice the vocational-technical crafts, then the person should go ahead and hone the crafts up to the highest levels of mastery. Because craftsmanship practice is a constitutive part of soul evolution, to re-echo the theme.
As far as this note is concerned, it is erroneous to associate the Path back to God as a mere chanting of the name of God in multiple bhakti or church expressions. As expressed in other articles of mine, to reduce spirituality to faith/devotion is reductionist hogwash. Each one of us was provided by God with ‘glass of crafts’ as well, and given not merely our ‘glass of faith’, so we should strive to fill up our respective ‘glass of crafts’ along our evolutionary path. Failing to do so, we will face the karmic consequences (see the Bodhisattva’s elucidations) of such a misbehavior.
In my own analysis, failure to hone crafts—as much as possible a plethora of crafts across all of the 7 Rays—across our re-incarnated embodiments will be tantamount to rendering ourselves as ‘laggards’. This theory explains, to a great extent, why we have so many laggards today, whom psychologists classified as the idiots, imbeciles, borderlines, below average-intelligence persons, and retardates. We also have so many phlegmatics who, in my analysis, were an improvement over the laggards, were once laggards in past lives and are no longer in that state today, but whose learning paces are so slow compared to the smarter members of society.
On the other hand, following from the law of karma’s explications, many of the poor folks today, including those millions of street people or waifs, were once very wealthy and powerful persons, but who squandered the opportunities available before them, lived vicious lives in some past aegis. As we have declared in the 2nd Ray lessons, we must build virtues along the way to be able to ascend the Heights. Live wealthy lives now, but live your life viciously, and guaranteed in the next lives you will end up eking out to survive in the streets or as lowly paid slaves of employers.
But if one lives a prosperous life today, and sustains virtues-development till one becomes transformed like unto the finest gold internally, and the same soul follows the virtues and expectations along the other Rays of life, then, as the Bodhisattva assured, s/he will receive protection from above in this life and on to the next. More significantly, this Virtuous One will live prosperity again in the next embodiment, assuming that this person will still need to come back in the physical plane to complete the karmic cycles. Accordingly, those kings who live virtuous lives, will be returned as kings in later lives. A simplified causality chain is shown below:
AbilitiesàLivelihoodàProsperity w/ virtuesàProsperity in future livesàEnd of karmic cycles (Nirvana)
Come to think of it, no one is doomed forever to be poor. Even if one bears with them the bad karma of past lives and begin with sloppy financial lives today, through relentless practice of the Teachings, with yoga meditation at the core, one can deprogram the past karma, re-program the present embodiment into a new timeline, and end up life prosperously. Nothing is impossible in the cosmos.
As to the honing of talents, the teachings of many gurus of success today are encyclopedic. Seekers should go ahead and learn from these gurus. One can encounter them as readings in the university, both in the bachelor’s and graduate degrees. One also encounters them in the vocational-technical schools, where certain instructors have incorporated them in their human capital trainings. The gurus have written their pieces in formulaic designs in order to make the lessons simpler and effect their diffusion down to the most motivated phlegmatics, maybe even to the laggards.
Among the latest crop of gurus of success are Robert Kiyosaki and John Maxwell. I’ve reviewed Kiyosaki’s books, beginning with the Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and found his teachings very sound and practicable in today’s context. Maxwell’s CD-packaged lessons are amusingly substantive, and are excellent tools for success. On the macro-economic side, there’s Robert Reich with his Work of Nations, John Naisbitt with Megatrends and Megatrends Asia meant for the aspirants who desire to anticipate what opportunities are brewing in the planet.
As I have declared in my workshop lectures on entrepeneurship to marginal families, don’t ever wait for “guavas to drop from the sky,” but rather do work out to “produce the guavas yourself by cultivating them.” In other words, the pro-active strategy is to create the opportunities from within your niche, rather than simply wait for those opportunities to come to you on silver platters.
Should opportunities shut themselves out, and opportunity-building gets shut off so unexpectedly at a given juncture, than assess the causes right away. Accept the responsibility and don’t blame others. If there are imbalances in your home, than apply geomancy principles and practices such as feng shui. If you maybe relentlessly attacked by invisible forces, then do an energy closure by consulting shamans who can do the closure operations. Protect yourself with the necessary energy and balancing aids, mantrams, geomancy tools, and so on. And continue to build virtues within you.
As I was reviewing the works of contemporary gurus of success, I noticed right away their very emphatic contention on the significance of building and exercising virtues as part of success-building. Greed and arrogance are among the most sordid vices or evils, and many who have fallen in the prosperity grid were observed to have been greedy and arrogant all along. Virtues related to livelihood, the virtue of serving others, the virtue of continuous studies and re-invention of oneself, the virtue of high determination, the exhibition of good attitudes at all times are among the core traits underscored by the same gurus. I was bent on agreeing with them to the fullest, even before I finished reviewing their works. There can never be any argument against building virtues.
Dear Seekers, move on and chart a life of prosperity. Let me end this note with the line: Perfect thy crafts and practice them with virtues, and the heavens shall open themselves up to you.
[Writ 07 October 2007,
, MetroManila Quezon City