What is success?

By Acharya Sadanandaji

What is success?Normally success is measured in terms of one’s achievement. It is said that success comes before work only in the dictionary.  Hence every success involves hard work. One wants to acquire good education that secures good job and that gives more opportunities to become more successful in future. The one who is most successful is the one who has the most of everything that all others desire – a good education, a secure high paying job, with all the personal relations with all other beings, exactly the way one wants. Like in fairy tales, he lives happily ever after. Unfortunately, every set-up changes continuously and that is the law of nature. All set-ups are not necessarily conducive for ones likes and dislikes. The changing set-up can always up-set the metal frame of a person, even though he is successful in terms of his accomplishments.Listen to any parent – the success of his child is seen in every accomplishment, in gaining that is worthy to gain. His success is connected to the success of his child. He first feels that the child is successful if he gets first rank. Then the next success depends on his securing an admission in very good university, then his completion of his studies with high rank, then getting a job in prestigious company. That is not settling yet. Then, he feels his son is completely settled once he is married. Indian parents proudly declare that all their children are ‘settled now’. What it means, as any parent can explain, is all the daughters are married and now ‘settled’, – and all the boys are ‘settled’ with secure jobs and married, etc. All his children are settled but he is not settled yet. Now all he wants is to have grand children; with the cycle that starts again; their school admission, their education, their marriages, etc. Hence, none
 feels at any time, he is completely settled with what he has. None is happy with what he has; but always wants something more to settle – complete settlement is where there is no more longing for the mind to have anything else in order to settle. Wanting mind will never settles down with having what it wanted, since the wanting mind keeps moving forward at a faster pace with some more wanting than settling down with having fulfilled what it wanted before.
‘Having’ is living in the present, while ‘wanting’ is to achieve something in future. ‘Owning’ is identifying with what one is having as one’s own.  In the same way, renouncing is also some kind of notion of owning, since one has to own in order to renounce. Thus it involves renouncing the ownership of things, which one never really owns, to begin with. The true renunciation is not renunciation of things, but renunciation of the notion of ownership. The wanting keeps shifting to the future all the time without settling down with the present. One wants to want, than just settled with what one has. Thus wanting mind never settles with just having. On the same token any statement that renunciation of external things is needed for one to realize one own self implies inherently ownership of things that one never owns.Nobody is happy with what he has or what he has achieved. He is happy, of course, when others envy what he has or others long for what he has. He can measure his success in counting what he has in relation to others who do not have and would want to have what he has. Yet, that is not where the mind can settle down and say I have no more wants since I am happy with what I have.  I am happy with what I have, but I will be happier if I have this, this, and this, which I do not have. Wanting mind is the desiring mind and scripture says feeding the mind by what it wants is like pouring ghee to put out the fire. The wanting mind includes those that one wants to have and also those that one wants to get rid off. These in the language of Vedanta are called as Vaasanas or likes and dislikes.

The wanting mind can never settled down with what it has, unless it has, of course, everything in the universe and there is nothing left to want. That means having infinite that is Brahman, the limitless. However, finite being can never achieve or acquire infinite by adding finite things. That is mathematically illogical.  Thus the problem can never be solved since wanting mind remains all the time wanting. It is a useless advice to ask the mind not to want more, since that feeling of inadequacy and wanting to be adequate is natural and instinctive too.

The reason is simple. The wanting is the very nature of the ego. Ego arises by identification with what I have, with automatic exclusion of what I do not have that I want to have, to feel that I am an adequate being.  This forms the fundamental human struggle; nay the struggle of every being in the universe; from the first born (hiranya garbha) to the blade of grass, says Shree Sureswara in his introduction to Naiskarmya siddhi.

Hence, what one has represents the present state. Future is where one is heading with his – wants to have this and that. Wanting mind is the one which longs to have this and that in the future, and gains a measure of success in achieving what it wants. Achieving puts the man with the present as having what one wanted. However, the mind never settles down in the present with what one has; hence it wants all that it still does not have; the struggle continues till death. Nay, it continues ever after death. Even if one goes to heaven the problem continues. In Tai. Up., it says, in its amicable style, that there are three different colonies even in heaven, just like here, the slums, the middle class and the hierarchically elate class. Shankara says, the slum class residents are those who reached there by noble deeds prescribed by smRiti texts, the next higher class is those who reached there by following the righteous actions prescribed by Shrutis, and of
 course the elate class are the natives who hold very important positions like MP and ministers etc – they are supposed to be 33 of them. They do not have any ministers without portfolio. They deal with the God on the first name basis. Each one is 100 times happier than the fellow down the next level. Happiest person is, of course, the first born, hiranya garbha, whose happy scale is 10 to the power of 23 times that of ideal happy human youth who is owner of entire earth with all the yellow and black gold resources at his disposal. But no one is happy, they are happier than the fellow who is below their rank or below what they have achieved. Every one falling in this happy scale has egotistical happiness, since happiness depends on what one has in relation to what others do not have and like to have. Actually everyone is only happier but no one is happy, since everyone is still left with a wanting mind that wants to want.

It is interesting to note that those who do not have and those who have, both are not happy.  Some people do not have anything not by choice, while some do not have by choice – shotriyasya akaamaya tasya. Some want to gain happiness by acquiring what they do not have. Others want to gain the happiness by renouncing what they have.  They quote scriptures that say that one has to renounce every thing to realize one is infinite or the interpretations of the scriptures that says so – tyagenaike amRitatvamaanasuH.  The fundamental problem remains. Happy state is state of limitlessness where there is no more wanting mind. A finite mind cannot but WANT in order to be happy or to reach that infiniteness or limitlessness. Finite can never reach infinite either by adding or subtracting finite things.  On the other hand, the pursuit to reach the infinite does not stop and cannot stop until the wanting mind ceases to want.

Thus there is a fundamental problem in all these – not happy with what it is – and having wanting mind that wants to want – be it absolute happy state by renunciation or wanting to reach that absolute happiness by trying to acquire everything in the universe. These are two sides of the same coin. The longing mind remains in both. Both are not happy with what it is. Present is always perceived as the stepping stone for the coming future. It is a transitory state or a passage for the future happy and absolute state. Unfortunately future never comes. There is no bridge from the present to the future, since future is just a segment of mental projection.

Thus, we have fundamentally two overriding factors: longing to achieve absolute happiness and not relative happiness, or being fully adequate all the time, which is very intrinsic nature of all beings. Not to have that wanting mind is not the solution since it is the intrinsic nature of the limited mind. Hence neither renunciation of what it is (the present state), or what one has, is the solution to the problem.  In either case, the wanting mind remains wanting and not happy with what it is, since there is a desire to become something other than what it is. This is also what JK calls it as conditioned mind. A mind conditioned to look for or to want for things that make one to be absolutely happy. Unconditioning is not a process since any process reconditions in some form. Solution to this desperate problem is to recognize the problem correctly. This is what Krishna calls the solution as sanyaasa yoga – what Gurudev Swami Chinmayanandaji translates it
 as detachment-attachment technique. It is an oxymoron to solve a problem, which cannot be solved by any process.  This does not include either sanyaasa or yoga, but sanyaasa-yoga that involves seeing what it is. What it is – is present and not what one wants it to be. It is neither by not wanting what it is, since both are wants to want something other than what it is. True sanyaasa is not renunciation of things that one owns, but it is the renunciation of the very notion of ownership. It involves the recognition that I never own anything.  This is true sharaNaagati or a complete surrendering of the wanting mind to the infinite wisdom. In the process, the wanting mind ceases to be wanting, since it rests with that infinite mind that pervades everything as His vibhuuti. In the sanyaasa of giving up the wanting mind to the infinite, one gains the yoga (of or with) the infinite – the essence of sanyaasa-yoga. The complete surrender involves
 identification with the totality where the individuality ceases to be separate for it to want any thing separate from the infinite. It is the same as knowing that I own everything or the whole universe of things and beings, and therefore wanting mind that wants is no more wanting, since there is nothing more to want.  The notional wanting mind ceases to be in the unity of the totality that underlies the plurality.

I am – is the present, not an entity in the future, with something that I want my self to be, either by gaining or by achieving or by getting rid of or sanyaasa of what I have. Sanyaasa in the sanyaasa-yoga involves renunciation of not what I have but renunciation of the very notion of separate ownership and the associated renunciation of the wanting mind which always wants to want, through yoga or by shifting my attention to that the enlivening presence because of which the inert mind dances to its wants.  It is ‘as though’ yoking the mind to the very existence-consciousness because of which I am conscious of the wanting mind that wants to want things that I do not possess, or that wants to renounce things that I possess. By being conscious of the very wanting mind that wants to want or wants to renounce what one has, one is beyond the wanting mind or beyond the longing for something in the future that never comes. That is the same as being the
 witnessing consciousness or saakshii by renouncing all mental misconceptions of ownerships those results, in both wanting things and in renouncing things. Here sanyaasa is not renunciation of things but renunciation of notional ownership to the things that one never owned.  It is true, that external renunciation can help in this internal renunciation of the notional ownership. However, to say that it is essential, I am giving notional ownership more reality that what it is. The true sanyaasa is mental detachment to the notion of ownerships, and attaching or abiding oneself as the very existence-conscious entity that I am. That is the essence of SharaNaagati. In that very understanding, the wanting mind itself gets resolved, since it can exists only as long as the conscious entity which enlivens it by identifying with it and with its limitations. It survives as long as there is an identification with the wanting mind as – I am the mind – continues
 irrespective of whether external changes I do at the physical level. One cannot renounce notional ownership by a process. It can be done only by clear understanding that there is no reality for notional ownership of things and beings.

It can be only achieved by recognition that I am – is complete by itself – without any need of the wanting mind that wants things that one does not have, or renouncing things that one has. It is recognition that I am full and complete by myself with recognition that I do not own anything even to renounce or I own everything since I am that everything. ‘aham annam, aham annam, aham annam – aham annado aham annado aham annado is the screaming song of a realized master – I am all that which is consumed or desired and I all that who is consuming or desiring – I am that which is supported, and I am all that which supports everything – in essence there is nothing that is separate from me – I am the desirer and the desired– I am all that, yet beyond all that –I am immaculately pure with neither desire nor desired – I am that I am without a second – the very living present which transcends time, since there is no time in the present, as it is
 the meeting ground where past meets the future. What is there in the present is not the time-gap but that which transcends the time itself – where there is only the very presence of the existence-consciousness that I am. Now – alone is that which counts, and is that where one truly lives, or in that only all experiences takes place, but that which is beyond any experience itself – that beyond any sanyaasa or yoga.  Wanting mind dissolves into the very presence in that present, since there is no more wanting in it which relates to future. What is there is only MY PRSENCE – AS I AM with simultaneous recognition that I AM is the essence of the world too, the things and beings that I wanted, since I AM is the infinite presence that pervades both the mind that wants and the wants that mind wants.

Hari Om!

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