You want to know: how do I thrive in the world while also realizing the deep potentials of my being which seem to have nothing to do with money-making and being respectable out there in the fray?
These are deep questions whose answers take us into the heart of what it means to be a dream warrior, to be one who works to realize the truths of the heart and the beauty of the imaginal realm on this physical plane even in the face of onslaughts from materialism, mechanistic science, and the whole paradigm of separation (a conglomeration of devouring joylessness which I like to call the Nothing).
First, let's consider your dilemma.
Everywhere you turn you find there are gatekeepers: for employment, for education, for anything. The main thing the gatekeepers seem to want from you is that you agree with them and the world they've created-- and not just a token agreement, but a permeated, soaked-through agreement. They want you to be as saturated with their ideology as the balls of dough in gulab juman are saturated with sugar syrup. They want to see evidence that your whole life and soul is devoted to it, to them, to the Nothing.
At interviews, in applications, the gatekeepers come up close and breathe you in deep. They are smelling out how much of you is theirs. If they find an off-note, a fragrance of dissent or noncompliance in your being, you see yourself shut out from the shelter of their institutions and their money. If you are a dream warrior, as you are, they certainly detect it and recoil in fear.
So they've sniffed you and you didn't pass the test. They could sense the stirring of wakefulness in you, the aura of resistance and questioning that you've tried to repress. They rejected you despite your best efforts to fit in. Now you don't have access to their credentials; their money; their approval.
Is this terrifying? Yes. But less so if you remember that the institutions and the money are losing power anyway. The gatekeepers can't even afford now to shelter the ones who have soaked themselves completely in compliance. There are people being turned down for work and education who have denuded their lives and souls of everything but what the gatekeepers said they wanted-- and now these people, too, are turned out into the cold.
At least you have not done this great violence to yourself. At least you kept the truth and beauty alive in you, you have fostered it and nurtured it-- so you are not the most unlucky. You still have this wealth, and this -- though it may not appear so at the moment -- is very great wealth indeed. Perhaps most valuable of all is your love. Your love which is not sentiment or romance but rather a form of wise vision, the perception of your heart.
The intimations you have of magic and loveliness, of wonder and agonies, these are precious and these will fuel your life in the new world that you are about to help bring forth.
Right now this is hard to see. Right now you are full of bitterness. "I wanted a job," you think. "I wanted to support myself. To contribute. Now what do I have? What can my perception of loveliness yield me but a handful of poems that no one will want to read? What will magic get me but more scorn and abuse?"
More than anything, though, it astounds you that the people of our world do this to themselves: that they demand of each other and of us only the boring, the utilitarian, the violent, or the prurient. Not given to violence or extremes of lust, you sought to cooperate by offering the utilitarian. But you could only go along with it for so long: leaping through the hoops they set up-- and now you find yourself unable to leap anymore. Your leap failed. It failed not because of your vice but because of your virtue: your soul is too thrilling, too rich, too deep and too broad to be limited to the prescribed tasks of business as usual.
Now you have a choice of what to do. It seems to you like you only have two choices: Try again to please the gatekeepers and win this time or just be a failure and a burden, someone who lives on the edges of society, someone who goes mad.
It seems like winning or losing are the only possibilities. You either fool the gatekeepers and reap their rewards or you land flat on your face and get nothing.
But there's a third choice open to you. You could choose neither to win nor to lose but to surrender completely.
What does surrender look like? It looks like leaving the game altogether. And what does that mean? It primarily means to stop understanding yourself in the terms of the game. This is internal work. This is dream warrior work. It is very far from being easy and it takes constant vigilance. But it is work which from the first day you undertake it ignites an enormous shift in your experience of the external world, a shift which only snowballs more and more rapidly.
In order to stop understanding yourself in the terms of the game, you have to give up feeling the least bit of shame, self-pity, or resentment for your present condition. You must learn to take your sense of self-worth not from success or loss within the game but from your own sense of the strength of your heart. You must become willing to offer love and celebration to everything that seems to oppose you or confound you.
Does this sound easy? Are you ready to say to me, "But I already am proud of who I am; I already know that I am right and that the system and the Nothing are wrong." Dear brother, I would reply that you have not truly let yourself know this if you are still suffering, if you ever feel low or conflicted.
When you are fully in your power, when you are replete with joy for the truth that you are, you will feel no trace of this doubt or reservation about yourself. You will not worry that your inability to garner success in the external world up to this point reflects some secret defect of your own being. Instead you will see with crystalline clarity the fact that any difficulty you've experienced up to this point has not been your fault at all but the fault of the nightmare that all the sleepers are projecting, the nightmare of separation and scarcity.
When next I write, I will tell you my own methods for reaching and maintaining this condition of repletion. In the mean time, I ask you to begin by hurling a strong refusal against all the voices that tell you that you have failed and you are wrong.
Refuse to accept any judgment which would say to you that the gatekeepers' rejection of you signified that you did not try hard enough or did not do well enough. You did exceedingly well. You preserved the fragrance of beauty and truth in your being. You are our hope for a future that is truly, radically different from the present. You are winning at a level that those who are still asleep in the nightmare cannot comprehend. You, O Dreamer, are perfect.