QA234 QUESTION: [From the kitchen staff at the Center in Phoenicia] In this job, it’s very gratifying to please people and to have people approve. I feel in myself – and I think with other people who work in the kitchen, too – a difficulty in remaining centered. I know that it’s not because of the job, but it brings out an already-existing difficulty in me, and I want to know if you could give me some help. I want to be able to do the job the best for itself and for myself, but at the same time the others too.

ANSWER: Well, this problem is not directly related to food at all, but it is a problem that you would encounter in whatever situation you would find yourself. I shall be glad to answer you on that basis. Of course, wherever that problem exists, whatever you do for its own sake would then be diminished.

To the degree you are fearful, you are in a double bind, in a bondage to an authority figure, that can be acted out toward anyone – even people who are working for you or under you. They become authorities who threaten you. Now, the moment you are fearful and eager to please, there is already resentment and an undercurrent of defiance and rebellion there.

Both these attitudes – the pleasing as well as the rebellion – consume a tremendous amount of energy that would otherwise be creative energy that goes toward the fulfillment of whatever the task may be, whether it is working in the capacity of a manager in the kitchen or in any other area at all.

What is necessary here is that as this tendency is being recognized, you always connect with the other side of the coin. When you find yourself in the state of difficulty to assert yourself – the confusion, the eagerness to please – see the rebellion that is underneath and vice versa. As you have this awareness, then the sacrifice, as it were, could be made to give up the gratification that the ego derives out of the act of either pleasing or defying. Sacrifice this for the sake of the larger cause of creating maybe a beautiful meal in the spirit of God.

That will be your freedom. That will be your true autonomy. It is an act that must be followed through and can be followed through whenever it is being encountered. And then you will know from within, as an indirect occurrence, a spontaneous manifestation, when it will be right to assert what you feel is, under the circumstances, the best way, and when you may give in. Both will be done graciously, constructively, without ill feeling, because it will come from your own inner center.

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