What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

How Do You Become a 'Spiritual Teacher'?

April 20, 2012, 12:00 AM

I (Jason Gots, the guy writing this article) have had one of the weirdest career paths I've ever heard of. After attending an elite boys' school in Washington DC, most of whose graduates went on to become lawyers, doctors, or senators, I went to NYU to study acting, with dreams of joining some kind of Medieval traveling theater troupe. I have two Masters' degrees – one in Eastern Studies (What's that?, you may well ask. Think of it as two years in a secular Zen monastery.) and another in Developmental Psychology. I've taught middle school English, waited tables, written children's books for Kindergarteners in South Korea, started a theatre company, been a sort of semi-trained "clinician" for children with learning disabilities and, well, much much more. Now, at Big Think, I've got a job so perfect for me in its creative, multitasking zaniness that if I hadn't somehow stumbled into it, I'd have to invent it. How did I get here from there? And why did it take so long? 

What's the Big Idea? 

The idea of a 'calling' – a career path that grabs you by the throat and won't let go even if – maybe especially if – it's totally impractical, was an article of faith for me at age 18. Hence the acting degree. Somewhere in the middle of drama school, though, I began to understand how the profession of acting really worked, and that we were a horrendous fit for one another. That's when things got complicated. 

So you can imagine my envy at the comparatively straightforward career decision-making process of spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen, whose life calling exploded upon his consciousness when he was sixteen years old. While sitting with his mother in the apartment in Rome where they lived at the time, Cohen says he "suddenly became aware of an infinite expanse." He admits that words are poor conveyances of the magnitude of this experience, but recalls that he was flooded with an experience of ecstasy, joy, awe, and wonder that completely and permanently changed his perception of the world. 

At the time, Cohen was an aspiring Jazz drummer, and it would take him another six years to realize that this teenaged spiritual experience was the defining moment of his life. But realize it he did, and for over 20 years he has been travelling the world, teaching a spiritual method he calls evolutionary enlightenment

Spiritual Teacher Andrew Cohen talks with Jason Gots about how he found his calling. 

What's the Significance? 

All of this is to say that figuring out what we want to do for a living is one of the most important and complicated decisions we make in our lives, and that for many of us, school doesn't provide anything close to a road map. At a time in history where our collective problems are more complicated than ever, and where even law school isn't a safety net anymore, we need to pool our idiosyncratic experiences of finding a way in the world. These stories, in all their unvarnished variety, are what younger generations need to hear in order to put their own dreams into context.  


Open questions to everybody out there reading this:

  • Does the idea of a "calling" mean anything to you? 
  • If so, do you think you've found yours? 
  • Either way, what's the story of your career? 


Follow Jason Gots (@jgots) on Twitter

Image credit: Shutterstock.com


How Do You Become a 'Spirit...

Newsletter: Share: