Ambition has several causes; among them is that particular one we call fear.
A humble boy who, in the parks of luxurious cities, cleans the shoes of pompous gentlemen could become a thief if he began to fear poverty, to fear for his situation, to fear for his fate.
A humble seamstress who works for the classy clothing store of the powerful could become a thief or a prostitute overnight if she begins to fear for her fate, to fear life, to fear old age, to fear for her situation.
An elegant waiter of a luxurious restaurant or a majestic hotel could become a gangster, or a bank robber, or a very high-class thief if by misfortune he begins to fear for his situation, that is, to fear for his humble position as a waiter, to fear his own fate, etc.
The ambition of the insignificant insect is to become elegant. A poor salesperson who attends the clientele and who with patience shows us a tie, a shirt, shoes, and who treats us with much courtesy, who smiles at us with a fake gentleness, has the ambition of becoming something more, because he is afraid, he is afraid of misery, he is afraid of his somber future, he is afraid of old age, etc.
So, ambition is multifaceted. Ambition has the face of a saint and the face of a devil, the face of a man and the face of a woman, the face of concern and the face of indifference, the face of righteousness and the face of iniquity.
There exists ambition in the one who wants to get married, and also in that hardened old bachelor who abhors marriage.
There exists ambition in the one who aspires with infinite madness “to become someone, to show himself to others, to climb” and there exists ambition in the one who becomes an anchorite because he does not want anything from this world, and his only ambition is to reach Heaven, to become a liberated one, etc.
So, there exists mundane ambition and spiritual ambition. Sometimes ambition uses the mask of indifference or sacrifice.
There are those whose ambition does not set its sights this miserable wretched world, because their ambition aims for the world beyond; thus, their ambition is not to acquire money but psychic powers.
The ego, the self-willed, the myself, masquerades while hiding ambition; he conceals ambition within the most secret nooks of the mind, and then says, “I have no ambition, I love my fellowmen, I work unselfishly on behalf of all human beings.”
The cunning political fox who boasts about knowing all sometimes astonishes the populace with his apparent unselfish deeds, yet when he completes his term, he usually leaves his country carrying out millions of dollars. Thus, ambition disguised with the mask of selflessness often swindles the most astute people.
There exist in the world many people whose only ambition is to not be ambitious.
There are many people who renounce all the pomp and vanity of this world because their only ambition is to reach their own intimate self-perfection.
The penitent who walks on his knees up to the temple and who, filled with faith, lashes his body, apparently has no ambition, since he even has the luxury of giving without asking anything from anyone in return; nonetheless, it is clear that a miracle, a cure, a healing for himself or for some relative, or his eternal salvation is his only ambition.
We admire the truly religious people, but we regret that they do not love their religion with true selflessness.
The holy religions, the sublime sects, orders, spiritual societies, etc., deserve our unselfish love.
Regrettably, to find someone who unselfishly loves his religion, school, sect, etc., is a great oddity in this world.
The entire world is filled with ambitions. Hitler hurled himself into war because of ambition.
All wars have their origin in fear and ambition, and the most serious problems of life have their origins in ambition.
Because of ambition, the entire world lives on fighting against the entire world; some fight against these others, thus, everybody fights against everybody else.
Every person in life has the ambition of becoming someone, thus people of a certain age—teachers, parents, tutors, etc.—encourage children and teenagers to proceed on the horrendous path of ambition.
Elders tell students, “You have to be someone in life,” i.e. “You have to become rich, you have to marry a millionaire, you have to be powerful,” etc. Yes, the obsolete, horrible, ugly, old-fashioned generations want the new generations to also be ambitious, ugly, and horrible like them.
The most critical aspect of this matter is that the new generations allow themselves to be dazzled by the old generations, and consent to be guided along the horrible path of ambition.
Schoolteachers must teach their students that no honest job deserves contempt. It is absurd to look disdainfully at a taxi driver, or at a salesperson of the clothing store, or at any peasant, or at a shoeshiner, etc. because every humble job is beautiful, every modest job is necessary in social life.
Understand: not all of us were born to be engineers, governors, presidents, doctors, lawyers, etc.
All jobs, all occupations, are needed in any social conglomerate; no honest job can ever be disdainful.
In practical life, every human being serves a purpose; what is important is to know what purpose one serves. Thus, it is the duty of teachers to discover the vocation of every one of their students and to guide them accordingly.
The one who, in life, works in accordance with his vocation, will work with true love and without ambition.
Love must replace ambition. Vocation is that which we really like, it is that profession which we happily fulfill because it pleases us and is what we love to do.
Regrettably, in modern life, people work without enjoyment because of ambition, because they perform jobs that do not correspond to their vocation.
When we work based on what we like, based on our true vocation, we do it with love, because we love our vocation and because our capabilities in life are precisely those of our vocation.
This is precisely the teacher’s vocation: to know how to guide their students to discover their abilities, and thus to guide them along the path of their authentic vocation.
This chapter is from Fundamentals of Gnostic Education (1970) by Samael Aun Weor. The print and ebook editions by Glorian Publishing (a non-profit organization) are illustrated to aid your understanding, and include features like a glossary and index. Buy the book, and you benefit yourself and others.