This seems like a particularly urgent question at this time of growth and development. I am already in the midst of a graduate degree which is costing my father a lot of money and which usually directs people to professorial careers in their chosen field. However, I am as yet utterly undecided on what sort of a life I would like to live, save for that it yield me to enlightenment. As for what I would like to do, what sort of work I would like to engage in, and questions of this type, I am totally in the dark. I have entered into this track that I am currently on out of a consideration of the type of mental structure and character that I believe myself to have which lends itself to intellectual study and academic pursuits, along with the complete lack of anything better to do. But I am becoming more and more disillusioned by the academic practices of the day and how little concern there seems to be for knowledge. Instead all I see is the pursuit of publications for the sake of the maintenance of a position or a status or a salary. And it seems that the vast majority of the professors’ time is spent filling out grant applications and groveling at the feet of the bankers and the wealthy that they may shell out some dimes so that the paper can be published and the livelihood protected. What else did I expect? At the end of the day, we are all just after our wages. We are forced into prostitution as our childhood dreams and naïve world views are shattered to pieces, one after the other. Can I refuse to be a whore? Have I strength to reject this colossal edifice that humans have built through whoring? Is there even an alternative? The harlot sells her body, we sell our minds. My brainchildren could not be born unless someone somewhere can profit from it and so acquiesces to pay for their delivering, and this pay becomes my livelihood. I become forever doomed to search for something to apply my intellect to which can be bought and sold for a profit, patented, commercialized, whored. No, this is beyond my ability to endure because it is utterly alien to my sensibilities and internal value structure. Speaking of which, it may be useful to delineate this and to try and extrapolate from it what my life would be best spent doing.
So: what are my values?
1) Enlightenment: this is far and away the single goal and pursuit of my life to the extent that everything else listed here is contained within it and is subservient and secondary to it. Everything I do is always judged against the perceived probability that it will bring me closer or farther away from this goal. Consequently, what I choose to occupy my time with will most definitely not be something antagonistic to it.
2) Knowledge: this has always been one of the core values of my psyche, even since my earliest days. And knowledge is not limited to merely that which may be gained rationally or intellectually but also artistic knowledge, which may also be called perceptual knowledge or intuitive knowledge. A major goal of my life is the furtherance of my knowledge, in both of its aspects: the scientific/philosophical and the artistic/spiritual.
3) Love: whatever it is that I choose to do in my life, I would hope that it be done out of love and compassion for others. Prostitution and all such corruption is motivated by selfish concerns, whereas a life of service to others at the cost of many personal sacrifices is motivated by compassion. This is another major goal of my life, namely, to be of as much service to the suffering masses as possible.
4) Authenticity: by this I mean that my actions and my speech be consistent with my beliefs and values. It also entails an indifference towards the opinions others have of me and an inner strength to be true to my principles and not to bow down to the pressure that society collectively exerts upon me to follow its ways and live according to its values.
5) Solitude: this is closely related to the last point and is the methodology by which I reach it. However it is more than just that and also includes the cultivation of a resilience against the stresses of boredom and loneliness, which are the forces that propel us to seek the company of others, even when such company is detrimental to us. If we want their company we will also want to be in good standing among them, even at the cost of sacrificing our authenticity. Therefore, a life of solitude is one that I value.
6) Self-sufficiency: in keeping with a solitary and reclusive lifestyle, to grow my own food and disconnect completely from the grid and become self-sufficient is another goal that I have. This goal is feasible for me as my father owns large plots of land in Lebanon out in the wilderness which are arable and in a region with a mild climate that is easy to survive in.
Give these values, perhaps the best path for me to traverse would be exactly as just described: enter the wilderness in Lebanon and grow my own food and build my own shelter and live a life of solitude there. I could bring books with me to continue the furtherance of my knowledge. I could grow more than I need and give my surpluses away to the needy. All the while I would be deepening my meditation practice, thereby bringing me ever closer to my final goal and the end of all my pursuits: enlightenment.