When we discuss the subject of success in general terms, one key aspect is using our will power to accomplish our goals. But we must also remember that there’s such a thing as success in failure, in being able to go through life’s difficult periods and come out stronger.
You don’t have to be a slave to your bad karma. It was energy you put out in the past that created that karma, and if you put out the necessary energy now, you can get rid of it. Every hardship you meet with the right attitude and energy makes you stronger and helps to rid you of some of that karmic burden.
Accepting what is
There are two things we can do to get through life’s difficult periods. We must learn to accept the difficulties and also to overcome them-and we must learn to do both.
When I say that we must learn to accept the difficulties I’m not saying that if the world treats you badly, you should get a hangdog expression and wait to be kicked again. You don’t have to do that, but you don’t have to fight back either.
Success depends to a great extent on one’s willingness to accept reality as it is: as something to be faced if you don’t have the ability to control it. When you accept reality as it is, your energy becomes positive and that positive mental attitude, if directed wisely, will help you transform failure into success.
The real source of success
When I speak of success, I mean the kind of success you attain by sheer hard work. There’s success that comes to you on a platter due to past good karma, but if you just passively ride that wave, you’re not making progress. The energy you put out is the real source of your success.
I knew a group of people who were starting a company and kept talking about all the millions they would make. But I could see that they weren’t putting out the energy necessary to get those millions, and the business never did get off the ground.
Often the most successful people are those who have had the most to overcome because they’ve had to put out a great deal of energy to transcend their challenges. So don’t worry about the obstacles you’re facing. See them simply as things to overcome. If you put out the necessary energy, the results will take care of themselves.
Focused, solution-conscious energy
Success at anything depends upon concentrated energy. One-pointed concentration, if directed with will power and energy, generates a magnetic field that can attract success.
So, do everything with keen interest. People who work with only half their mind focused on their task never really succeed.
Equally important is solution consciousness. Don’t mix with people who only see the obstacles, but with those who find solutions and succeed in their efforts. At Ananda, when I see people with problem consciousness, I keep them at a distance. I don’t mean to be unfriendly to anyone, but low energy people can pull you down with their failure consciousness.
The solutions to our challenges are in the ether. When you’re solution conscious, you put out the kind of magnetism that attracts success, and a higher force begins working in your life. You’ll be amazed how often answers come to you, sometimes out of the blue.
Similarly, when you become deeply concentrated, as in meditation, you reach a superconscious level of awareness, and at that level, God can work through you. By becoming open to His inspiration, you can accomplish things well beyond your self-perceived abilities.
People are really seeking happiness
What we’re really looking for when we think of success is happiness. Many people think, "When I have money, I’ll be happy." The truth is that people with a great deal of money are often among the most miserable.
Nor does human love bring you happiness. That, perhaps, is the greatest delusion of all. Everybody wants a mate and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing in itself, but it’s such a compromise with what the heart really wants. We’re looking for perfection of love, and we won’t find it in another person. In fact, you won’t find fulfillment in anything unless you have it in yourself.
The success you’re looking for doesn’t depend on anything external; it depends on your attitudes and inner self. The more you can share whatever life gives you with others, the more you will find the kind of success you’re really looking for-which is happiness.
Seek the best for everyone
I was in Sicily a few years ago, and I went into a shop to buy a hat to protect me from the sun. I don’t usually wear hats so I asked the woman there, "Which hat do your customers like best?" She said, "They pay me and they leave. I have no more interest in them."
I said, "Here you are, wasting eight hours a day just thinking of how much money you’re going to get, and not seeing these people as an opportunity to make friends? You’re not finding happiness in your work because you’re not thinking of how to make other people happy. What is the use of living like that?" I left, and I didn’t buy a hat.
The next year I was again in that town. I happened to be walking past this woman’s shop, and she was outside. She came up to me with tears in her eyes and said, "Thank you. You taught me a very good lesson." She was weeping because it was so important to her to have understood that simple principle.
When a person seeks the best for everyone, actively and generously, his chances of finding happiness are great. This is why Jesus Christ said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." When you give, you feel more bliss because you’re expanding beyond the little ego.
Leveling out the duality
The world has a million ways of involving you. The more you get caught up in the outward expression of life, the more you will have to deal with the duality of it. Every success will be balanced by a failure, every victory by a defeat.
But the more you can remain even-minded and cheerful at all times, the more you can level out the duality and achieve the kind of success that is worthwhile. It depends entirely upon your courage and equanimity, especially your refusal to be upset when things don’t go well.
When William the Conqueror landed in England, the first thing he did was fall in the sand, and a gasp of horror went through his entire army. They were thinking, "Oh, what a bad omen. We’ve come to conquer a country and the first thing our leader does is fall down flat on his hands and knees."
But William was a man of extraordinary courage. He said, "I am so determined to grasp this country that I have taken it in both my hands!" And everybody cheered.
If you take everything that comes to you with that kind of attitude, the worst failure can bring success. I’ve had many failures in my life. I’m grateful for them because they’ve helped me to develop the power to find the success I truly want.
Seek success in the Self
How do you develop that power? The more you can live centered in the spine, the less anything will affect you. This is why Kriya Yoga is such an important science. Kriya helps you to get control over the energy in your spine and to raise your energy and consciousness completely toward God, who is beyond the states of duality.
When your mind is settled within, you find that you are always happy because you experience the joy of the soul, to which there is no opposite joy. You are joy. It’s not something you achieve by getting anything.
Hold your consciousness up
Always remember that God is not up in the heavens. He’s part of your own consciousness. The more you open yourself to Him, the more whatever you need- opportunities, inspiration, understanding-will come to you. But if you turn away from Him, even a little, you begin to lose that grace.
You have to hold your consciousness constantly up to Him. If you can do this, you’ll find success in whatever you do, and also the highest kind of success – realizing God’s bliss within.
From a July 26, 2008 talk in Los Angeles and Material Success through Yoga Principles.
How to Be a Success by Paramhansa Yogananda