By Andreas Toupadakis, PhD
Contributing writer for Wake Up World
Are you doing what you always wanted to do? Are you doing what you believe in? Do you live the life that was meant for you to live? From where do you seek approval? Are you looking inward?
There are millions of people around the world who eagerly wait the weekend every week, the summer vacation every year, and later on, long before the age of retirement, they fantasize about that good free time during retirement. If you ask these people how much they like what they are doing for a living, they will typically answer that their work “pays the bills.”
On the other side of the river, there is a different community of people. When you ask them what they will do on the weekend or after they retire, they will simply state that they are already on an eternal weekend and timeless retirement, that their summer vacation and their vocation are both 365 days long every year. These people do not have to prove that what they are saying is true about themselves. Every time you meet them, they radiate joy and truth. They are content. They have time for others, not just outside their work time, but any time. Interestingly enough, all of their bills are paid and in fact, some of these people are financially rich.
The way of the heart is not limited to leading us to enjoyable and fulfilling work, it is also the way for making every major or minor decision in our lives.
Creating Your Future
You can cross the river from the cloudy, muddy and rocky shore to the shore of sunshine and green pastures. You can make that trip, just as not only famous people have done, but also as simple every-day people have done and are continuing to do every day. If you sense that there is something missing in your life, and you do not look forward to going to work when you wake up in the morning, your chosen vocation very likely does not fulfill your needs. And you can change all that.
First, there are several questions which need to be answered, because the answers will encourage and direct us towards the path we would like to be on. By examining critically the different causes which on a daily basis keep our bodies weak and tired, our minds confused and restless, and our hearts sad and fearful, we will learn how to avoid such a way of living and see the alternative, the green pastures on the opposite shore.
Next, we should examine how and with what materials we will construct our own boat to be able to cross the river. We can gain wisdom by meditating on the words of the wise people of the past. We can see how they also crossed the river, and we can be inspired by their examples.
What are the reasons why some people are so content in life while others are not? Why do some people seem happy when they are very absorbed in their work but lonely and miserable when they are away from their workplace? As for the people who are radiating timeless joy, not just at the work place but also everywhere else, were they born that way or did they become that way? How? What is the way of thinking that causes people to do work which doesn’t use their talents and which does not express their individuality, or their values and ethics? Where does this way of thinking – which enslaves people – come from? Is it possible to adopt a new way of thinking which will enable us to break loose from our enslavement?
Coming to know ourselves in order to create an enjoyable future is not a process that takes days, weeks, months, or a few years. It can take our whole life, but we should always remember that being on the right path and aiming for our distinct identity and distinct role in life is what makes us happy. Enduring and timeless joy is not found only upon reaching selfhood, it is planted and harvested in the process of trying to achieve it. You will have to act in order to place yourself on the right path towards self-realization.
From a Small Seed…
Take as an example a farmer who has just one olive seed in his hand. He looks at it, knowing it is strong and healthy, and he looks around and sees the majesty of nature. With awareness he accepts the fact that the same power that has brought him into existence has also provided the seed and the soil, the sun and the water. That is, the farmer knows himself; he knows who he is and what he has for use at his disposal. How wise that farmer is when he looks at the seed and he sees not only one, but thousands of seeds. That is imagination. Now he must take out the weeds and prepare the ground, and trusting the powers of the universe, he then buries the seed in the soil. Before he sees the grown tree and is rewarded with its precious olive oil, most likely he will often experience some fear and doubt.
How does he know if the weather will help the growth? How does he know if an animal will not eat the seed while it is in the ground? He must simply wait and believe for the best. He has no other choice but to act, and then wait. This time of waiting and wondering while the seed is buried in the ground could be the most frightening experience during the process.
Nevertheless, a farmer who knows himself and trusts other people for help if something goes wrong will enjoy the whole process, not just the olive oil he will obtain. He finds reward in every step he takes, from observing to preparing to gathering. At this point, the farmer has created his future; simply, in this case, he has produced his physical food. Finally, he will truly enjoy the product of his labor — the olives and the olive oil.
The same cycle of observing, preparing, and gathering will again take place the next year with even more joy and less fear. Now he has in his hand not just one seed but many.
It is essential to realize that this is our everyday life. We gather what we plant. If we plant in joy, we will gather it with more joy, and by knowing and trusting ourselves, the powers of the universe, and other people, we continue the cycle of planting and gathering with increasing joy and satisfaction for every new cycle of life-planning.
The Materialization of Fear
It is characteristic of our industrialized societies that it makes us lose our individuality, and so we become only a tiny part in the social machine. It is therefore of great importance that we keep in mind that such a way of living is foreign to human dignity and to our own happiness. By working just to pay our bills, we are missing the meaning of life. Sooner or later, we will have to lose ourselves in order to find ourselves, not for the sake of the machine but for our own sake, and therefore, for the sake of the whole world.
The increase in violence and environmental degradation observed in our days is the materialization of our unfulfilled hearts and unjustified fears. Only happy people, content with themselves and in harmony with others and nature, can lead the world to peace and environmental sustainability. The world needs more happy people. It needs more people who work using their talents, who earn their living by doing what they love, and are passionate about. These people have found their true self, peace, and joy. They are fulfilled and in harmony, knowing who they are and what they do in their life.
During my teaching experience at several colleges and universities in North America and Europe, I have met hundreds of students and I have heard their stories. The statement “I am working on this degree because of my parents” is so common and illustrates a degree of tragedy — because we should not live the unfulfilled dreams of our parents. Most of us mistakenly choose careers based on status, salary potential, or the pressure we receive from our well-meaning parents. Unfortunately, this is not usually what we are most capable of doing or what is the most fulfilling for us.
My heart goes out to all these young boys and girls who are filled with beautiful dreams and who need encouragement to fulfill them, and to all those people who already have a career but who would also like to make a transition to fulfill their dreams. I wrote these words for you.
Deciding early on the right training for the right vocation for healthy living in the future has now become even more crucial than in the past. There is an apparent trend in many work places for longer work hours, yet more people feel less secure now because many are losing their jobs overnight. But people who have realized their inner strength and unique talents can create or see opportunities for work any time, and stay above the water.
With every passing day, it is becoming more obvious that those who will have job security and peace in the future will not be those who are working for corporations; it will be those who have realized their inborn abilities and not just the skills acquired through education. As computers continue to replace more workers every day and as unemployment rises, people will be forced by the need for survival to do work much different than they were educated and trained to do. Thus it is crucial for people to become more active and decisive in seeking a personally satisfying career.
I myself had felt the urgency and had heard the clear inner voice years ago telling me to change the type of work I was doing, to go from research to teaching. I waited for many years before taking that little step onward, for reasons that each one of us would find very justifiable based on our world’s standards and fears. But our soul is eager to find full expression and to devote itself to serving others by using the gifts and talents that have been bestowed on us. Suppressing that force can lead us not only to inner turmoil and unhappiness, but even to the loss of our health. Not only was my mind in confusion and my mood bad day after day, but also my body was experiencing terrible pain. I was simply miserable all that time, trying to avoid the calling of my heart. I was in spiritual poverty and I was creating spiritual poverty for those around me.
Jumping Into The Unknown
Do we have to reach the bottom before we awaken and realize the meaning of life? It need not be that way. Quitting my role in government nuclear labs and jumping into the unknown transformed my inner life and influenced many of the people around me in a beautiful way. Searching for the truth and speaking it is our first vocation, and without it, we can never fulfill our destiny. Following the inner voice to abandon familiar waters and false security is no less than speaking the truth to the whole world and to ourselves.
The decision to work on what seemed to me as natural as breathing – teaching – was the best decision I could have made for my whole life span on this planet. To revise my career has been the most frightening experience I could ever have imagined; nevertheless, it has also been the most elevating and exciting experience that I could have possibly expected. I know that this is also true for many people who have dared to try the experiment.
The road to happiness is always the road towards the unknown. Our culture today promises security, but we know well that what we need is inner security, which comes only from knowing our true selves and from knowing our magnificent talents, potential, and abilities. The path we need to travel is not reached by receiving security from the work we do at the command of others, but instead, from the work we do at the command of our deepest yearnings for self-expression, by simply doing what we most enjoy. It is the way we can never fail.
Our motto should be, “We work for ourselves in order to serve others” instead of “We work for others in order to serve ourselves.”
After you finish reading these lines, what will you do about the calling of your heart? Will you postpone the day of your freedom? You are not alone. Ask the advice of a wise friend; it is the easiest and most inexpensive way. Or read another book on this subject. Perhaps, visit a counselor and pay attention to his/her advice. Attend a lecture or a workshop where an inspiring speaker could provide the spark you need to take the step. Usually speakers on this subject are people who have done just that in their own lives. At an early age, they may have stood up strong before family, friends and society to choose their own destiny, to do what they enjoy most, or maybe later in their life, they took the leap of faith to change careers and do what they really love. Allow them to transfer their flame to your heart so you can also take the leap of faith you need to take.
Just as a car needs to have gas in order to keep moving, you may need a good counselor, a good book, and a good friend to stand by you, inform you, and encourage you. But for a car to start moving, it needs a spark; even with the tank full of gas, it will not move without it. As important as the gas is, so is the spark. A great inspiring lecture or seminar will take you emotionally to higher places, but soon you will feel hopeless and flat again. That is why you must patiently and constantly strive for the change in your life.
Arise Great Warrior, Arise!
People without career satisfaction can hardly be in peace. It has been said that the grand total of peace in the world is the total sum of the peace of its people. For thousands of years, many cultures have used the olive branch as a symbol of peace and goodwill.
Wars will continue to take place, machines will keep breaking down, things will keep getting lost, and many people will keep becoming more fearful of the future. But butterflies will still keep moving from flower to flower, and the fragrance of basil and orange blossoms will still give inspiration to anyone of us who want to live with joy. Only happy people can lead the world to peace.
During your lifetime on this planet, you are like a warrior in a battle against all kinds of cultural barriers and spiritual wounds, which prevent you from reaching selfhood. Fear no more, for endless joy is your final end. You must “fight the good fight” in your lifetime in order for your inside to come into harmony with your outside. Therefore arise, great warrior, arise!
Recommended articles by Andreas Toupadakis:
- Glorifying Peace Instead of War
- Creating Your Future – Arise Great Warrior, Arise!
- Unifying The Global Peace Movement – Challenges and Solutions
- The Real Face of The Empire
- Science, Secrets and Corporate Slavery
- Crisis in Science: Scientists’ Responsibility for the Survival of the Human Species
- Awaken Students! Education is for Self-Awareness and Inner Growth
- Quitting the Nuclear Labs – a Scientist’s Plea for World Peace
- Civilization Is for Making Peace, Not War
- Wisdom and Compassion Need to Become Action
About the author:
Born on the beautiful island of Crete in Rethymno, Greece, Andreas Toupadakis received his primary education while living in the mountainous village of Argiroupoli near the coast. After receiving his B.S. in Chemistry from the Aristotelian University in Thessaloniki, he began graduate school in the U.S. He has lived in the U.S. since 1978, and he received his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry from the University of Michigan in 1990.
Since 2005, Dr. Toupadakis has been teaching at UCDavis as a lecturer at the Department of Chemistry. The courses he teaches include the General Chemistry 2ABC series for first-year students majoring in science and engineering, the Organic Chemistry 118ABC series and the Organic Chemistry 8AB series for second-year students, and the Physical Chemistry for Life Sciences 107AB series for third- and fourth-year students. His scientific interests are in better teaching methods and chemistry book writing and reviewing. His lectures are tuned toward conceptual learning via the Socratic dialogue method.
He is the author of three chemistry study guides, CHEMISTRY READER 2A, CHEMISTRY READER 2B, and CHEMISTRY READER 2C and their corresponding solutions manuals, which have been received with great enthusiasm by students taking the CHEMISTRY 2ABC series, his teaching assistants, and colleagues. Andreas also teaches two popular freshman seminars at UC Davis every quarter entitled, “From Self-Awareness to Personal Growth for True Success in and After College” and “World Music as a Means to Embrace Diversity and Reach Self-Discovery”.
Besides teaching chemistry at UC Davis, he has also taught chemistry at several other colleges and universities in the U.S. and in Greece, including the University of Crete in Iraklion, and the Nutrition College at the Technology Education Institute in Sitia, Crete. Dr. Toupadakis has also worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and in industry at Dow Corning.
In addition, Dr. Toupadakis has given lectures and written articles on life planning through wise career choice, on career change and career satisfaction, and on sustainable living across campuses in the U.S., Greece, Japan and recently in India. His writings have appeared in a number of newspapers and electronic magazines. Andreas often reminds his students of Gandhi’s words, “Be the change you want to see in the world”; of Socrates’, “Know your Self”; of Einstein’s, “Imagination is more important than knowledge” and of Amma’s, “Where there is love there is no effort”.
Dr. Toupadakis has being tirelessly lecturing on environmental issues and peaceful solutions at universities and colleges, including MIT, Tufts University, the University of Notre Dame, San Francisco State University, U.C. Berkeley and Waseda University in Tokyo. In January 2000, Dr. Toupadakis resigned his position at LLNL and took his story public. His landmark resignation is a rare and inspiring case in which a scientist has left a weapons program to actively contribute the peace movement. Among other recognitions, Dr. Toupadakis was awarded the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability (ANA) Certificate of Honor in May 2000, for moral integrity of the highest order in refusing to work on nuclear weapons research and encouraging his colleagues to renounce this work as well. He spoke both times as a keynote speaker at the 2000 World Conference against A H Bombs in Hiroshima and at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference at the United Nations in New York on May 3, 2000.
Dr. Toupadakis, together with his friends and students, has started to establish in Greece, two hours from Athens, “NECTAR,” (next to NOOSFERA) a place for living in and with nature. In NECTAR, community members will be connecting with the land while pondering and practicing the teachings of great teachers such as Socrates, Pythagoras and Apollonius of Tyana.
His personal web site, is devoted to student success during and after college. Dr. Toupadakis spends a great deal of his free time with his students at his organic garden plot, which is provided by the Experimental College Community Garden of UC Davis. He also encourages his students to have their own garden plots. The Department of chemistry of UCDAVIS in 2011 nominated him for the Academic Federation Award for Excellence in Teaching. He is the winner of the 7th annual ASUCD Excellence in Education Award as the overall educator of the year 2009 at UC Davis.
You can contact Dr. Toupadakis via email here.