Success and Failure
A lecture by Sri Chinmoy in Milan, Italy
Dear seekers, dear friends, dear brothers and sisters, I wish to give a short talk on failure and success from the spiritual point of view.
Failure is a discouraging force. Success is an encouraging force. Failure makes us feel that we have been forced to climb down the life-tree. Success makes us feel that we have climbed up the life-tree and enjoyed the most delicious fruit.
What is failure? It is a tearful cry. What is success? It is a fruitful smile. When we fail, whose failure is it? It is the failure of our unlit vital. When we succeed, whose success is it? It is the success of our satisfied vital.
Why do we fail? Is it because we are unlucky? Is it because we have not worked very hard? Is it because we have not invoked God’s Compassion and Blessings? Is it because God has accepted this failure as an experience He wanted to have in our life? Is it because God has granted this failure to us? Is it because God has willed that we should lose? No! No! It is for a different reason that we experience failure. It is for the strengthening of our consciousness that, at times, God grants us defeat.
Why do we succeed? Is it because we are lucky? Is it because we have worked very hard? Is it because God’s Compassion and Blessings we have invoked? No, it is not because of these things that we achieve success. We succeed because God, out of His infinite Kindness, wants us to win in the battlefield of life. God grants us defeat in order to strengthen us: He grants us success in order to encourage us.
The body of the man of failure says to God, “Father, You do not love me. Therefore, I have failed.” The vital of the man of failure says to God, “Father, You do not care for me. Therefore, I have failed.” The mind of the man of failure says to God, “Father You are indifferent to me. Therefore, I have failed.”
But the Father says to His children, “No, My children, you are wrong.”
The body of the man of success says to the Father, “Father, You love me only. Therefore, I have succeeded.” The vital of the man of success says to the Father, “Father, You care for me only. Therefore, I have succeeded.” The mind of the man of success says to God, “Father, You have most special Compassion for me. You show Your Compassion to me only. Therefore, I have succeeded.”
But the Father says to these children of His, “No, My children, you are wrong. It is not because I love you more than others that you get success and they do not. In the inner life there is no such thing as failure and success. There is only an ever-transcending progress. Through repeated defeats, I want you to become a spiritual giant so you can defeat the ignorance-giant that wants to devour the world. Through success, I want you to run faster than the fastest. I want you to defeat the ignorance-animal, the ignorance-donkey. If you reach the goal sooner than ignorance, then you will be able to realise Me, reveal Me and manifest Me. And once I am manifested through you, there will be no suffering, no bondage, no limitation, no death, no darkness.”
The Father says to failure, “I want you to be stronger than the strongest. It is you who have to be responsible for My full Manifestation on earth. I want to entrust you with the supreme Duty. Therefore, I am making you strong, divinely and supremely strong.
“Failure and success, I have equal love for both of you. Do not judge Me; only love Me. If you love Me, then you will feel that I am fulfilling Myself in and through you, through both of you in a unique way.”
Failure says to the Father, “Father, is there any way I can succeed?”
“Yes, My son, there is a way. If you are more careful, more alert, more conscious at every moment, then success will be yours.”
Success says to the Father, “Father, is there any way I can have success all the time?”
“Yes, there is a way. You have to be cheerful and self-giving. If you give yourself cheerfully, then you are bound to achieve success all the time.”
Progress says to the Father, “Father, is there any way I can always make progress?”
“Yes, there is a way, My child. You should always aim at ever-transcending Perfection. If your goal is to reach perfection, then at every moment you will always make progress. Perfection is not a stagnant pool but a running river; it is always moving towards the infinite Sea, its Source. Therefore, you should always try to make your goal the ever-transcending Reality. If you do this, you will always be able to make progress and satisfy Me.”
When we love God, when we serve God, when we surrender ourselves totally to God, at that time failure cannot make us sad. We do not care for success, we do not even care for progress. Our love, devotion and surrender lifts our consciousness far above the heights of failure and success and progress, and we become surrendered to God’s Omnipotent Will. When we become inseparably one with God’s Will, we enjoy divine satisfaction in our inner life and in our outer life. This divine satisfaction is what God wants from all of us. He created us so that we could be divinely satisfied; this was the only purpose He had in His Vision. His Vision was transcendental, but He wanted to manifest His transcendental Vision here in the universal Reality. The Real in us wants from us not failure, not success, not even progress, but only God-satisfaction and God-fulfilment in and through us, through our surrender to God’s Will.
Published in My Rose Petals, part 5
Sri Chinmoy Answers
questions after his lecture in Milan, Italy
Question: What is the spiritual significance of the seven notes in the scale: "do", "re", "mi", etc.?
Sri Chinmoy: The seven notes that we have in the scale correspond to the seven higher worlds. Each note comes down from a specific inner world.
Question: What should one eat in the spiritual life?
Sri Chinmoy: The kind of food that keeps the body and mind calm and quiet is the best food for those following the spiritual life. Naturally, vegetables are far better than meat. Meat comes from the animals, which are always fighting and destroying one another. If we eat meat, then the animal consciousness enters into us. And it is this animal consciousness that we want to transcend. But the consciousness of vegetables and fruits is very mild. They are not destructive like animals.
Question: What is spirituality and meditation? Is spirituality peace?
Sri Chinmoy: Spirituality is peace, peace within and peace without. In the spiritual life, we should do everything that will help us to acquire peace.
Meditation is our conscious attempt to become consciously aware of God. When we say God is everywhere, God is only a vague idea for us. If we don’t feel God, see God or talk to God consciously, then what is the use of having a God? Unconsciously if we do something, we do not get the real result. Consciously we have to do things. So many times a day we move our hands, legs and everything without being conscious of it. If we just do it unconsciously, we do not develop our strength. But if we do the same things consciously, it is called exercise; we develop our strength. Then, when we have strength, we try to conquer lethargy, disease and other wrong forces. Similarly, if we consciously meditate, then we feel God, see God and talk to God. Otherwise, God will be right in front of us and we won’t be able to see Him.
Question: What is the Indian view of suicide?
Sri Chinmoy: If one commits suicide, then one is doing something extremely wrong. One commits suicide because of some emotional problems or some weakness in his life. But we are God’s children and we have to fight against weakness and ignorance. God has given us this body, vital, mind, heart and soul in order to realise Him and manifest Him on earth. But if we destroy the body, then how can the vital, mind, heart and soul act for God? The body is a house. Without a house, how can we live? If we destroy the body, then we cannot live on earth. So God does not want us to destroy the body. He wants us to face the world. If we fight against temptation, ignorance, weakness, emotional problems, then only we can realise God and please God.
According to strict Indian philosophy, the act of suicide is the worst possible inner crime. Once the body is consciously destroyed, it takes hundreds and hundreds of years for the soul to reincarnate. If it is a natural death, then the soul gets the opportunity to come down again and reveal God’s Light in the normal way. But if it is an abnormal death, it becomes extremely difficult for the soul to come back on schedule. It is not only difficult, but almost impossible, unless God out of His infinite Compassion or some very great spiritual Master helps the particular soul.
Question: Is the capacity of the thinking mind a power?
Sri Chinmoy: The capacity of the thinking mind is always a power, but it is very limited. It is very limited because often it contradicts itself. The thinking mind will say that so and so is good. It is positive thought that the thinking mind has applied. But after five minutes the same mind will say, "So and so is a very bad person." Now it is a negative thought. The negative force and the positive force will fight and then both sides will become weak. Again, sometimes it is even worse than that. The thinking mind will say, "Who am I to judge whether you are a good man or bad man?" Then the mind starts doubting itself. When the thinking mind starts doubting itself, it becomes an extremely weak force instead of becoming a strong force.
Question: Is perfection perfect?
Sri Chinmoy: Perfection is always perfect. But again, perfection is always transcending itself. Perfection is not a stagnant pool. As I said in my talk, it is a river that is flowing, flowing.
Question: What do you think about outer progress?
Sri Chinmoy: When we increase our faith in God, that is our inner progress. But when it is a matter of outer progress, we are always looking for the results. If the result is success, then we are happy; if the result is failure or defeat, then we are unhappy. And when in our outer life we can offer both success and defeat with a cheerful heart to God, that is our true outer progress.
Published in My Rose Petals, part 5