As a child I had a fear that I could never be a chess master because I wouldn’t be able to fit all the information into my mind. Sometimes after two hours of a chess lesson, my teacher’s words seemed to go in one ear and out the other, and I envisioned a brain filled to the brim. Where could I ever put so much more? And if I did manage to cram everything in there, how would I be able to sort through the stuff?
For the last few years, wherever I go, people want to discover how to become a career renegade. They all want to know how to turn something, whether it’s knitting, painting, writing, or growing grapes, into enough cash to call it a living. Especially when everyone around them keeps telling them it’s just not possible.
The conversation inevitably turns to the two giant questions that stop nearly everyone in their tracks:
1. What if the thing that makes my heart sing doesn’t pay enough to support me?
2. Or, what if it could be lucrative, but only if I was at the top of the ﬁeld?
In the 11th century C.E., the great Tibetan yogi Milarepa began a personal retreat to master his body, a journey that would last until his death at the age of 84. Earlier in his life, Milarepa had already acquired many seemingly miraculous yogic abilities, such as the power to use “psychic heat” to warm his body in the harsh Tibetan winters.
After suffering the unbearable pain of losing his family and friends at the hands of village rivals, he employed his mystic arts for purposes of retribution and revenge. In doing so, he killed many people and struggled to find meaning in what he had done. One day he realized that he had misused the gift of his yogic and psychic abilities, so he went into seclusion to find healing through even greater mastery. In sharp contrast to the life of material abundance he had known before, Milarepa soon discovered that he needed no contact with the outside world. He became a recluse.