Jobs 1

  • The principal activity in your life that you do to earn money
  • The responsibility to do something

This is the big one, the one you spend most of your life doing. Something you do at least five days a week and spend eight hours a day at; so you better enjoy it, right? You’ve finished school, you took your exams, passed or failed. Now what? Depending on your results and what you’re interested in, you may find yourself as a trainee barrister, trainee engineer, trainee accountant, trainee doctor, or you may find yourself with the rest of us, not knowing what to do. The only thing you’re sure about is you know you are supposed to get a job to earn money, to pay your bills, to contribute to society. Welcome to adult life.

You may be 16, 18 or 21, depending on when you left school, but this is all new, this responsibility. It only seems like yesterday when you were playing in the school yard, laughing with friends, learning about life, growing up, experimenting. Suddenly, it’s all gone, that life, and you are now on your own.

What does that mean to you as a young person? What are you expected to do? What is your role in life supposed to be? Who are you? Well, the one thing you are, is a fully fledged adult (according to law) and as such, you will be welcomed with new temptations, such as alcohol to make the pain of adult life more bearable, and cigarettes to help relieve the daily stress. As long as it’s legal, nobody cares – your parents won’t, and the government certainly won’t. You are now old enough to make your own choices.

In some countries, alcohol and cigarettes are not legal until you are 18 or 21, but you are usually still old enough to work and pay taxes as an adult at 16. It’s all a bit strange all this. One day you were a schoolboy, and the next, you are an adult. It’s not like driving, you don’t get L plates to wear round your neck for the first two years. You’re straight in, no allowances. Oh, and by the way, you are also now old enough to get shot for your country.

There are so many choices, so many types of jobs. Factory jobs, catering jobs, management jobs, administration jobs, carpentry jobs, retail jobs, sales jobs, even self-employed jobs. There is a huge choice – for some. For others, it’s more difficult. They didn’t pass their exams, or they live in a town where employment is scarce, and they have to take the first thing that comes up. One thing’s for sure though, the only reason you’re taking a job is because you need the money. Just imagine for a moment that you win the lottery. You have just won millions of dollars!
“Congratulations! What will you do now?” the interviewer asks.
“Well, I’m going to take my whole family on holiday, buy a new car, and move house. I will give some away to charity, and I’m going to pay off the mortgage on my brother’s house.”
“That’s very nice of you,” says the interviewer. “Do you think you’ll go back to work on monday?”
“Sure, just to pick up my things and tell them I’m not coming back.”

Is earning money my main purpose in life?

Everything costs money – even the basics like food, water, shelter, heat and clothing. There is nothing for free. Even if you want to grow your own vegetables, you have to have rent or buy land to grow them on.

Everything costs something.

Although you may be able to barter for some goods, large electricity, telephone and mortgage companies aren’t interested in what services you can offer them in exchange, they want paid in hard currency, (the paper medium of exchange that is currently used.) and there’s only one way to get it – hard work.

When you’re still at school, you don’t have to think about this. Your parents provide all the basic necessities for you and more.

Children aren’t really aware of how things appear at the table, or how a new toy came to be in their possession, they just arrive, and that’s a child’s prerogative. It’s when you stop being a child that the realisation comes as to how you get all the things you want. Work. W-O-R-K.

How many people can honestly say they like going to work? I know some, but most people would prefer to do be doing something else, doing something more constructive with their time. As one person I know put it: “Work gets in the way of things you love doing like your hobbies, or spending time with your family.”

We don’t want to spend time with people we don’t know and may not like, doing a job we don’t really like, eight hours a day, five days a week. We certainly wouldn’t spend that time on a hobby we didn’t like or spend eight hours a day with friends we didn’t like! So either some of us actually do like our jobs, or we’re doing it just for the money.
Some people have fulfilling jobs don’t they? They find them fulfilling because they are actually getting paid for something they enjoy doing, and there is no specific job that fits this description, everybody’s idea of fulfilling work is different.

I worked in information technology for several years. I started at the bottom, and through a good bit of luck rather than design, managed to work my way up to several managerial positions. I jumped around from contract to contract, always earning a good bit more than before, and the work was interesting – all big projects to put in new systems, never a dull moment.

I really enjoyed my time doing it, but looking back, I asked myself would I have chosen information technology as my career if the money hadn’t been so good, as I certainly could never see myself going back to that life now; I would find it immensely boring and unstimulating. So I asked myself: “what would you have done instead?” But I couldn’t answer. I just fell into information technology; it wasn’t the thing I really liked, it just paid the bills, and as a side effect, was actually quite interesting.

When you start a job, you may hate it straight away, but as time goes on, you start to enjoy going. You meet different people, complain about the bosses, have lunch together, go for a smoke together, maybe a drink after work. It’s almost like an extended family.

Work also gives you a reason for getting up in the morning, seeing as the days of hunting and gathering have long since passed. You may complain about hating your job, but the regularity of the income, and the things money provides, gives you a gentle reminder that although you don’t like the work, it sure is better than sitting around the house with no money; because although everyone says they’d rather be at home doing their hobbies, or playing with their children, what they omit to tell you is, “as long as I had enough money.”

As I well know, sitting at home when you’re poor is a miserable experience, especially when you start seeing the bills coming in every day and you have no way of paying them. Believe me, spending time with your family or enjoying your hobbies isn’t so much fun anymore when you know you may be evicted from your home. They take a back seat until you find regular work again, and once your back on your feet financially, you can start complaining about work, and wishing you were at home with your family, enjoying your hobbies.

Although everyone would like to be doing what they love, one thing stops them – money; or rather, the lack of it. If you think life’s difficult with money, try life without it.

Although some people manage ok.
Monks spend their time in quiet contemplation in their monasteries, and generally never carry money, proving you don’t need worldly possessions – but remember, someone’s paying for their food, the upkeep of the monastery, the purchase of the land, and their shoes. They may have no need for money, but that’s because all of their expenses are picked up by their relevant religious institutions who get their money in turn from you, who has to go to work to earn it!

Money is critical to our existence now. We can’t operate without it. We have discussed barter in another topic, but as you may remember an airline won’t accept three sacks of potatoes from a farmer to pay for his holiday flights! And for good reason. What would they do if everyone was paying them in produce, plumbing services, massages and upholstering? Barter works at its best between two individuals who both require each other’s services and can be effective, but let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Whatever we do, we expect to be paid for it, whether in cash or as a barter agreement – that is called a job. We all need one. It is our responsibility as adults to have one, and without one we’d all be in a pretty sorry state. The question is, what job?

We have already discussed that even if we enjoy our work, the purpose of going every day is to earn money. Without earning this money, life on earth would be difficult for all of us, even to have the most basic existence. Throughout the world you have seen people without money, and they have to rely on other people to earn it for them, to be distributed through the government social welfare system or in extreme cases through international aid.

We need work to keep our self-esteem high, to feel worthwhile as a human being, so it is no wonder that people feel depressed when unemployed. Everyone needs to feel purpose in life, and there is no nobler purpose than going to work to earn money to feed and clothe your family, provide a roof over their heads and enjoy yourself once in a while. So whilst earning money may not be the meaning of life, it certainly is the purpose for which all adults go to work every day. No man can search for meaning when he’s hungry.

Jobs 2

  • The principal activity in your life that you do to earn money
  • The responsibility to do something

  • As I travel around during the day, I take pleasure watching people engaged in their work, not because I like to see other people working instead of me, but to see the complex human, and what he is capable of physically, and mentally.

Counting, adding, typing.
Designing, cutting, building.
Thinking, talking, deciding.
Lifting, packing, driving.

We’re amazing aren’t we? Who could have thought we could have evolved into a being capable of such complex tasks? I don’t think most of us realise how brilliant we are!

As I sit here typing, a thought comes almost instantaneously; my brain sends messages down the arms, to the fingers which have learned where each key is, and words automatically appear on a screen.

The sheer complexity of making a wrist and finger move to a thought. That the word appears in my head and all my fingers move to type it is the most amazing thing. Think about it for a moment. Now think that a human has also designed the computer I am typing this into.

Most of us have no idea how the words get onto the screen, what a screen is made of, and how our work is saved to something called a hard disk. We just accept that it happens, the same as being able to type. But you try asking another species to type, or design a computer!

We are the most intelligent beings on the planet with superior intelligence, articulate speech, and erect carriage. We have created musical symphonies, built bridges, sent men into outer space, and built buildings in the sky where people can live. We have designed machines that can fly. We have designed systems where we can talk to people who live thousands of miles away. We can send moving images through the airwaves. We can see at night, thanks to electric light. We can keep food fresh for months by freezing it. We can keep warm at night without lighting fires thanks to central heating. Those are just a few examples of a list that could last pages and pages.
We have indeed achieved a lot, through our capacity for complex thought, thanks to our amazing bodies. That’s why it makes me sad to see some humans engaged as machines. Human beings working in jobs that require them to use nothing more than their labour; jobs that require little, or no thought.

Why? Because they need money, and they failed their exams at school. No human is born not to use their brain for eight to nine hours of the day; our brains have the capacity to do great things, even if we did fail our exams. Some people just aren’t good at tests, or they’ve had a difficult upbringing, but the fact remains that as a human, you have a huge brain just waiting to be used.

Modern business is organised around larger-scale companies, with a hierarchy that has few bosses, and is bottom heavy with workers employed for their labour only – much like an army. With the advent of the modern production line (mechanical system in a factory whereby an article is conveyed through sites at which successive operations are performed on it) which facilitates fast construction of items, each employee is only required to do a small part (no craftsman is responsible for making the whole product). This requires skills which can be easily be learned with on the job training.

In the beginning, the work may seem difficult, but like driving a car, the more you do it, the easier it gets, It becomes a subconscious process, where you can think about other things when doing it. The modern office is organised in the same way, only pieces of paper are processed instead of products.

Business leaders, economists, and governments will always argue that a certain percentage of workers will always have manual machine-like jobs, and they are correct. You see, without humans engaged in this type of work, products wouldn’t get made, companies wouldn’t make money, employees wouldn’t get paid, taxes wouldn’t get paid, social services would collapse, (roads, education, health) and society as we know it, would collapse, leading to an eventual breakdown in law and order and eventually anarchy – and nobody wants that, do they?

So, although education is high on the governments list “Everyone has the right to an education,” they don’t want everyone “too” educated, as that would upset the fine balance that needs to be achieved. They still need to provide employment to people with low academic achievement so they can afford food, clothing, and rent, and leave them with some money to spend on entertainment, otherwise they may find themselves with some very unhappy voters, who fail to return them to power at the next election! So the employers don’t want everybody to be a deep thinker do they?

Imagine if you had gone to university for four years, were well educated, used creative thought and were put on a production line that required no thought? Actually, imagine a whole factory staffed by university professors! They wouldn’t stay longer than a week, unless they were desperate, but even then, they would find it intolerable. They would argue with their supervisors that this “wasn’t the best way to do it, and had they considered doing it another way?” Why? Because they were using their brains, something that is definitely not encouraged on a production line (or indeed the army). People must obey orders, they must conform, otherwise there would be chaos.

Companies may have “employee consultations” where they discuss proposals for changes, or ask for employee input; but in reality, the managers are the ones doing the thinking – that’s what they get paid for. They get paid to think, and workers get paid to do. If you have too many ideas or disagree too much with the way that things are being done, you may find yourself labelled a “troublemaker,” and be on the next list for redundancy. So in order to keep your job, it’s better to just keep your mouth shut and not think too much.

I am not saying that everyone’s jobs are on a production line, or in an office moving paper, that is merely a couple of examples. What I want to discuss, is jobs where you don’t have to use that big brain of yours; where the tasks are so (relatively) easy for someone with this kind of brain capacity, that the job becomes monotonous, yet you can’t leave, because you need the money.

How many of us are stuck in jobs where we can’t use our brain, but have had to stay because we have taken a mortgage, bought a car, are raising a family, and have credit card debts? The sad thing is we just give up sometimes. Society tells us that this is our place. We failed our exams at school so we are destined for a lifetime of misery, doing a job that makes us no better than a machine. All for what? A bit of money?

We are here for such a short time on the planet that it seems such a shame to waste the brain we have. You and I are the same; you and the boss are the same; and if you’re the boss reading this, you and the employees are all the same.

We all have brains of approximately the same capacity, it just depends on how much you use them. If you are told that because you failed your exams, you are written off as a human being. They couldn’t be more wrong. Exams are just indicators of how much you remember of a subject, and if you weren’t interested, didn’t study, or were distracted by social or family problems, it’s no wonder you didn’t pass! It doesn’t mean you’re stupid, or don’t have a brain. You just aren’t using it.

So now, imagine you could do any job you wanted, what would it be?

Any job you wanted

Would it be the same job as you’re doing now? I would guess that unless you were doing a job that used your brain and one that interested you, the answer would be no.

Job now: Cleaner
Job wanted: Cleaner

We all have what we call dreams. We have jobs we would like to do, no matter what field they are in, whether in science, arts, aerospace, or industry. These are the jobs, that given the chance, we would love to do.

Let me ask you a question. If there was a twenty year old factory worker whose job it was to sweep the floors, could he become an engineer? Could an office clerk become an airline pilot, or a cleaner a doctor? The answer depends on two things: First, on the length of time they have left their brain unused (a fifty year old man who has never used his brain may find it more difficult to learn something new), and second, how much the person really wants to do the job. If you really wanted to be a doctor, I mean really wanted to, you could. You only have to be deeply interested in it, and when you’re that interested in something, you are prepared to do whatever it takes to learn it, no matter how long.

The trick is to not leave your brain ticking over in idle too long. Your brain is like a ferrari just waiting for you to put your foot on the accelerator to show you what it can do. Your brain is the most powerful thing on the planet and maybe even the universe. Don’t let society condition you into believing that you are not capable of magnificent things. You are not just a worker, you are amazing. You are a human being; you must not let anyone set your limits.

If companies want machines they should build them not use you. You are not a machine. The possibilities for work (which we have shown is necessary to earn money) are endless, although money should not be the only reason you go to work. Think now about the type of work you would like to do. It may seem outrageous to you that it could be possible, and your friends, colleagues, and family may also tell you that it’s impossible.

“What? You, a doctor? Ha! Don’t make me laugh”

People are always jealous of someone who wants to use their mind and isn’t prepared to be labelled worker. They may want to do something different too, but were too embarrassed to mention it in case anyone laughed at them. Take the courage to learn more, to do the job you have always wanted to do; after all, the world will be a better place when more people start using their brains. Think about this for a moment. Can you see the possibilities?

The path you want is not always the easiest to navigate, but if you really want it, you will find a way, whether you have a mortgage, credit card debt or two children.

This is your one chance at life to do the thing you have always wanted to do. Take it. Don’t spend nine hours a day wishing you were somewhere else. If you really want to, you can be somewhere else doing what you want to do and getting paid for it. You have nothing to lose.

Jobs 3

  • The principal activity in your life that you do to earn money
  • The responsibility to do something

I recently asked myself the question: “What work have you done to help the world be a better place today?” To be honest with you, I had to say, nothing. Sure, I have contributed to the world by being a cog in the wheel that lets people be fed, bridges be built, televisions be bought, houses be built and armies conquer nations. I have gone to work, earned enough money to pay my bills. I have paid taxes to the government for the benefit of society and had enough money left over to buy a few consumer goods, go on a couple of holidays and generally have a nice time.
Then I asked myself a second question: “Has any work you have ever done furthered the cause of humanity.” “What a deep question to ask yourself,” I thought! I racked my brain and could honestly say that nothing I had done in my life had furthered the cause of humanity. If you asked yourself the same two questions, what would your answer be?

It’s a tough question, because although many people do good work every day, helping people and healing them, they would have great difficulty quantifying whether they were furthering the cause of humanity. So I think we need to re-phrase the questions don’t you. How about:

“What work have I done to make the world a worse place today?”
“Has any work I have ever done worsened the cause of humanity?”

To most of us who work in regular jobs, we wouldn’t think anything we were doing made the world a worse place, especially if the work we were doing was legal.


  • Established by or founded upon law or official or accepted rules

I’m sure the man who works packing cigarettes in the factory or the person delivering them to the stores, or the shop assistant selling them doesn’t think they are making the world a worse place. It’s not their fault if someone over the legal age for smoking dies of lung cancer, that’s a personal choice. All they are doing is their job. What about the man who works in the gun factory. All he does is assemble one part of the item, he doesn’t care if it’s a real gun or a toy, he’s just doing his job. He has to pay his bills too. The same goes for the man delivering them or the store that sells them. They don’t kill people. They’re just doing their job. He’s not doing anything illegal.
If you were to ask the man in the gun factory why he does what he does, what do you think he’d say? I’d think he’d be annoyed he was being asked such a question!

“I’ve worked here twenty years. I’ve never had a sick day in my life. I pay my taxes and my bills on time, and I have brought up two children who are both law abiding and at university. I volunteer at my local hospital. I do not do anything wrong. I’m just a hard working citizen of this country who only has ten years left until retirement. Even if I wanted to, there’s no point in me giving up my job, there’s plenty of people willing to take it over. There isn’t too much employment around here, so what would I do? I’d be unemployed, I wouldn’t get my pension, and I’d have a tough life. No thanks. Until someone tells me the work I’m doing is illegal, I’ll keep coming to work every day so I can keep paying my bills.”

Most of you would find it hard to find fault with what he’s saying. After all, he does have a point. His aim is to find work to earn money which he does. Employment in his area is hard to come by, and anyway, he quite enjoys his job. He knows it’s mundane, but he likes the people there, and he’s doing a great service to the nation assembling guns for the army. He has achieved everything he set out to do. He would vehemently deny he is contributing to the death of thousands of people around the world, killed by the very weapon he helped assemble.

“I have never fired a gun in my life, I don’t fight with anybody, and I am a peaceful man who is just going about his own business, and by the way, I don’t make the bullets! That’s what kills people, not guns.”

Like everybody in the world he has a family to feed and look after, but then again, so does the man who has just been killed by the gun he helped manufacture.

Would you do anything for money?

I’m not talking about selling drugs, or robbing banks. I’m talking about a job in a real company that makes or sells items that are legal. I do not wish to get into a discussion with you about morals and ethics. There is no such thing as right and wrong here, that is all a matter of personal opinion. I may think that the man selling cigarettes is helping people kill themselves, but he thinks he’s providing a public service.

Cigarettes, weapons, and alcohol, are not the only businesses in the world not furthering the cause of humanity, but they certainly are responsible for more deaths than the agricultural trade spraying our crops with poisons, or the soft drink companies and fast food companies addicting our children; although they are catching up. At least you can see the result of an automatic machine gun having been fired, it’s a lot harder to measure the health costs of the use pesticides and insecticides.

So would I do anything for money? No I wouldn’t, but only because I am aware of the knock on effects of seemingly innocuous actions.

Think about this scenario for a moment. Who is to blame for the death of the man in who was robbed in the street; is it the man who fired the trigger? Or is it the government for legalising guns; or the woman who packed the bullets into the box; or the man who sold the gun; or the woman who works in the accounts department of the gun company who paid the supplier for the raw materials to make the gun; or the shareholder; or the computer company that provides their pc’s; or the electricity company who keeps the production line running? Who is ultimately responsible? Legally only one. The man who fired the bullet. “Quite right” says you, “he is the only man who broke the law. He is a murderer. He should face the death penalty. He is evil.”

Wait a minute though. If no one had made the gun or sold the gun, he would have found it a lot more difficult to kill the man he was robbing. “But,” says you, “he would have probably have used a knife if he hadn’t had a gun…”

Nobody wants to take responsibility for the effects their jobs have on the world. The man who screws the wing onto the fighter aircraft, thinks he is no more responsible for the deaths of a thousand people who die in a bombing raid, than the man who types up advertising brochures for the cigarette company he works for.

In their opinion, the only person responsible is the one who carries out the action; the person who smokes the cigarette, or who fires the gun. But we are all part of the chain when we work. We are all ultimately responsible.

Think about what you do, what company you work for, and what they do. If you don’t know, find out.

Is anything you or they do contributing to making the world a worse place?

Of course, if you work sweeping the floor at a fast food chain you wouldn’t really care, it’s just a job to pay the bills, but if we all think like that we will never be able to make the world a better place for ourselves. If we stop thinking about our own personal needs for a moment, and start to see the bigger picture, we will begin to understand that choosing work that is good for the world can only benefit us all in the long term. I am not talking about doing voluntary work.

As we discussed in part one, we need to earn money to survive in the modern society, it is the type of organisation we own or work for that is important. The way we can evaluate the impact our job is having on the world is by making a simple positive and negative comparison list:

Fast food company


  • The fast food chain creates jobs for the local economy.
  • They provide cheap food quickly.


  • Litter in the streets.
  • Huge volume of packaging used.
  • Addicting children and adults to unhealthy foods.
  • Helps make every high street look the same, forces out local restaurants who can’t compete with such cheap food.
  • Helping create a society that rushes eating, and doesn’t respect the effort that goes in to cooking a meal.
  • Clearing of forests to graze cattle.
  • Waste of resources on something not beneficial to the system.

By doing this we can start to get a clear view in our mind of the negative sides to the company we run, or are employed by, thus enabling us to start a conversation with our employer about concerns we have, or more likely (due to not wishing to be sacked), leave the job and find one that fits in better with our personal ethics. The most important time to make this list though is before starting work for an employer. Most of us know the right questions to ask at an interview. “What is the salary? What are the career prospects, the health plan benefits, holidays..? But how many people have ever asked a prospective employer:

“What is the negative impact of your business on the world as a whole?”

It certainly isn’t a question I have ever asked, have you? Why? Because we want the job. We want what it offers us. We want the package that enables us to have a comfortable lifestyle. We don’t really want to jeopardise that by asking questions that might embarrass our future employer do we?

Interviewer: So do you have any other questions about our gun making business?

You: Well you’ve pretty much covered everything except… could you tell me what the negative impact of your business on the world is please?

Interviewer: Sorry, I don’t follow.

You: Well, does the business impact anyone negatively?

Interviewer: No, we have a great employee loyalty scheme, we donate one percent of our profits to charities and help people in third world. We also give money to the local schools.

You: That’s not quite what I meant. Does your business harm anyone else’s lives in the world?

Interviewer: Well our guns kill people if that’s what you mean, but our business has a social responsibility program. We recycle eighty percent our waste, we have solar power in the factory, we collect rainwater for use in production, and we have summer barbecues every year for disadvantaged children. Any other questions?

Please think about this carefully for a moment. This may sound like an extreme example, but it isn’t. Either the people who work for, and run companies are aware of the harm their primary products do (and try to cover it by doing “good work” in the local community, as a smokescreen to their real activities), or nobody actually cares what they do to earn money.

What does your company do?

It may be that you sell clothes, not guns, but where are the fabrics made? Are they produced in some sweat shop where the people work twelve hour days, and earn less than you spend on a soft drink? Or do you sell cars or computers which use massive resources from the earth to manufacture? It’s no good saying: “Well, if I don’t do it someone else will” or “if people didn’t want to buy the products they don’t have to;” it really is your personal responsibility to do work, that not only gives you money to live and enjoy your life, but also does nothing to negatively impact someone else’s life. Their life is as important as yours.

It may be that you ignore this section because it is a difficult one to come to terms with. What we are saying here is that by not engaging in employment that has a negative impact on the world (people or environment), the negative effect of that work will disappear. By doing work which positively impacts the world, we are contributing to making life better for everyone.
We are the most intelligent species on the planet, but sometimes it seems as though we are also the most stupid, selfish, arrogant, uncaring, cruel species on the planet. I’m sure there are no other species here that could be labelled as all those things.

Life isn’t just about one person earning money, owning a house a car, and having a family and taking two holidays a year. Life is about people. Six billion people and their right to enjoy a short life here whilst not being negatively impacted by other people on the planet.

It seems to me that most of us are only concerned with what we can get now – money, status, power, control. We don’t care about anything else. We want to earn a lot of money to have a rich, easy life, and we don’t care how we get it; and we sure don’t care about what will happen to the planet in 200 years, we’ll be long gone; it will be someone else’s problem.

Meanwhile, we’re going to have a good time.

I hope I am not right? Am I?

By Alan Macmillan Orr

“The Natural Mind waking up”



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