"Pursue your business as it occurs to you, without any desire or purpose of your own towards its object; but continue to turn about your calling, as the potter’s wheel revolves round its fulcrum."

Does the sentence fragment "but continue to turn about your calling" mean that one must be oriented towards doing one's occupation or otherwise? Since, the meaning of "turn about" is to "move in the opposite direction".

What phrase could be used in place of "turn about" to convey the right meaning?

  • I guess it is talking about a calling as opposed to one's occupation, which is needed to keep a roof over your head. For example someone who feels a compulsion towards show business might be advised "don't give up your day job". Oct 15, 2020 at 8:07

1 Answer 1


In this case turn about does not mean turn and face in the opposite direction it means circle around the point mentioned, in this specific case the person's calling or vocation. You can tell this from the comparison with a potter's wheel

This is probably the origin of the term turn about meaning turn and face in the opposite direction as that means turn about the centre line of your body and is mainly used by the army to drill soldiers.

I interpret the meaning of the sentence (which is archaic and also a little fanciful in its style) as "Do not have long-term goals or ambitions for your trade or profession, do in it what is required of you on a day-to-day basis and as ideas come to you but always bear in mind the central nature of the trade or profession"

Either this is a very old piece of writing, or it is a prescription for a philosophical or religious way of life rather than a guide to business, or it is both. It sounds to me rather like part of the instructions for the Yogic "Path of the Householder" where the Yogi lives "in but not of the world".

What book does it come from?

Edit after posting I've just seen the comment by @weathervane which was written while I was writing this answer and the suggestion that calling means the person's true calling or higher calling rather than vocation is very compelling. This would mean that the following of the trade, profession, or even casual labouring work should be secondary to the true calling which should always be the person's primary focus.

  • Also similar to the Desiderata "Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time." Oct 15, 2020 at 8:35
  • @BoldBen Thanks for the answer. That excerpt is from the article How to Act (Yoga Vasishtha) Oct 22, 2020 at 15:19
  • @VarunPrakash That makes sense, it is an ancient text translated in the late 19th century. There seems to have been a tendency at that time for people to translate ancient Indian religious texts into a sort of 'biblical' English, perhaps to give the translation an air of authority.
    – BoldBen
    Oct 23, 2020 at 23:30

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