From a talk given in Ojai on June 3rd, 1945. Published in On Right Livelihood, on p. 9 of my copy:
Our means of livelihood are dictated, are they not, through tradition or through greed and ambition? Generally we do not deliberately set about choosing the right means of livelihood. We are only too thankful to get what we can, and blindly follow the economic system that is about us.
But the questioner wants to know how to withdraw from exploitation and war. To withdraw from them he must not allow himself to be influenced, nor follow traditional occupation, nor must he be envious and ambitious.
Many of us choose some profession because of tradition or because we are of a family of lawyers or soldiers or politicians or traders; or our greed for power and position dictates our occupation; ambition drives us to compete and be ruthless in our desire to succeed. So one who would not exploit or contribute to the cause of war must cease to follow tradition, cease to be greedy, ambitious, self-seeking. If he abstains from these he will naturally find right occupation.
Although it is important and beneficial, right occupation is not an end in itself. You may have a right means of livelihood, but if you are inwardly insufficient and poor you will be a source of misery to yourself and so to others; you will be thoughtless, violent, self-assertive. Without the inward freedom of reality you will have no joy, no peace. In the search and discovery of that inward reality alone can we be not only content with little, but aware of something that is beyond all measure. It is this that must be sought out first, then other things will come into being in its wake.
This inward freedom of creative reality is not a gift; it is to be discovered and experienced. It is not an acquisition to be gathered to yourself to glorify yourself. It is a state of being, as silence, in which there is no becoming, in which there is completeness.
This creativeness may not necessarily seek expression; it is not a talent that demands an outward manifestation. You need not be a great artist nor have an audience; if you seek these you will miss that inward reality. It is neither a gift, nor is it the outcome of talent; it is to be found, this imperishable treasure, when thought frees itself from lust, ill will, and ignorance, when thought frees itself from worldliness and personal craving to be. It is to be experienced through right thinking and meditation. Without this inward freedom of reality, existence is pain. As a thirsty man seeks water, so must we seek. Reality alone can quench the thirst of impermanency.