Nothing Succeeds Like Success

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Beloved Immortal Atman! Blessed children of the Divine! Sometimes very common sayings which are current in normal society, passing off as ordinary clichés or oft-quoted sayings, will be found to have originated either from shrewd psychological observations and truths about human behaviour, or to have originated from deep philosophical truth.

One such saying may be of interest to all who wish to succeed. Succeed in what? Succeed in any endeavour. We all want to succeed in our spiritual quest, in our spiritual sadhana. We want to succeed in the efforts we are putting forth to attain a certain goal which we know is really worth attaining. Who does not wish to succeed? Everyone aims to succeed. There are any number of books written on success, and those who write them usually succeed in becoming both rich and famous. The word success itself has an attraction, and the saying I mentioned is popular in Western society among ordinary people: “Nothing succeeds like success.”

What is the speciality about this saying? The speciality is that it tells us something about the mind and how events influence the mind. You all know that the sure way of failing is to have a negative state of mind: lack of self-confidence, diffidence, hesitation, nervousness. “I may not succeed”—if this idea is already implanted into the brain, you work for failure only. You do not expect or hope to succeed, and therefore naturally you create conditions whereby this inner mental condition manifests itself in your outer circumstances. Even if you were capable of success, yet by the mentality of your mind you lose that opportunity, deprive yourself of success. The reason is because you already have an “I cannot succeed” idea, and once you have this idea, there is not much that other people or forces can do for you.

This defeatist mentality is sometimes ingrained due to our wrong way of thinking, and Patanjali Maharshi seems to have known it. He said: “Keep the inner mechanism in a positive state always; never be depressed or dejected, never be in a state of negativity; be always cheerful, contented, keep the mind always positive.” It is only a positive mentality that can ultimately bring you success. So in his Yoga Sutras, Patanjali insisted that when you determine to become a Yogi, to enter into the field of yoga sadhana, that you first correct yourself by correcting your outer actions through taking a vow of firm adherence to certain virtues, so that you will never swerve from those virtues, so that your actions will always be good, virtuous, godly, holy, always daivi (divine). Thus you correct your outer condition first—all your actions in vyavahara (society).

The next step is to correct your inner condition by keeping the interior clean, keeping both the body and mind clean, always pure. Keep your interior in a state of cheerfulness, contentment, positivity, never negativity, never having diffidence, never having a mentality of defeatism. Always say, “Yes, there nothing I cannot do; I will succeed.”

And thus your interior becomes well geared, an instrument fit for Yoga and meditation, because Yoga and meditation, Yoga and spiritual life, sadhana, is a process of constantly facing defeat and yet constantly being determined: “This next time I shall succeed, I have to overcome, I shall overcome; this defeat is only a passing phenomenon, but success is the final outcome, I know it. Therefore, until I get that final outcome, I am going to persist and carry on this effort.” So without at all caring for even ten defeats, a hundred defeats, a thousand defeats, you carry on and succeed.

Because this controlling of the mind and the senses and trying to make the mind go inward through pratyahara is not an easy joke; it is a stupendous task. How difficult it is, how much effort is necessary, has been compared to reversing the Ganga and making it flow towards its source, Gangotri. So pratyahara, making the outgoing mind inward, is a real task, but the Yogi is not perturbed because he says: “I can do it. I know I have to succeed in doing it, I shall succeed in doing it, and one day everything will be under my control.” This is tapasya, a constant state of determination inside.

Tapasya is constant determination when being confronted with the opposite, negative side, asuric side: “I will never give up, I will never accept defeat, I will never allow the negative to overcome me.” That determination is the essence of successful tapasya. This is present in a Yogi. The Yogi is a tapasvi, a samyami. And the Yogi is a person of great inner and outer cleanliness and purity. He is a person of absolute cheerfulness, absolute contentment, santosha. There is no defeatist mentality; he is all positive, all determination and all dogged perseverance. He says, “Never give up.” Why? Because his strength comes from two sources.

He daily draws inspiration, courage and fresh energy from svadhyaya—thrilling inspirations, inspiring ideas. They are positive ideas, full of spiritual force. He drinks of these living waters of spiritual inspiration, spiritual instructions and spiritual strength and force from svadhyaya. Every day he is freshened, he is invigorated.

The second source is isvarapranidhana: “I am always abiding in God, so I lack nothing. I have the infinite resources, the inexhaustible strength of God at my back. So how can I ever fail, how can I ever be incapable of doing anything? How can I ever lack energy or force to succeed in my quest? Never! I have the infinite resources of God always with me, always at my back, because I always live with Him, I abide in Him. He is my support, my strength.” And thus isvarapranidhana is placing yourself in the Divine always, living in the Divine, being aware that the Divine is within you and you are in the Divine. These are all transformers of the interior of the Yogi even at the very beginning of the great Yoga pilgrimage, Yoga quest.

Therefore, the mind-state should be always success oriented, and once it succeeds then that success itself gives it a new urge and puts it into a positive state. Therefore, they say never discourage little children, even if they have not performed well. Say, “Well done, wonderful!” That was Gurudev’s mentality. Little children’s mind-natures are in a state of developing, and so if at that time you go on giving them positive suggestions, always encouraging, always praising, always admiring, then they soon develop a very positive mentality, ever able to succeed.

Thus I place before you for your consideration the inner significance and import of this apparently common but very shrewd and correct saying: “Nothing succeeds like success.” It is true, success puts you into a positive state, makes you self-confident. Then the door to success is thrown wide open for you. Therefore, always have this state of positive self-confidence, a robust, determined state of mind, and attain the Goal, not in the distant future, not in another birth, but in this very life, and become supremely blessed!

God bless you! Gurudev’s teachings grant you this positive state of confidence—atmavisvas, and may you constantly, with diligence, cultivate this success mentality. Uddharet atmanatmanam (Let a man raise himself by his own self). It will pay you infinite dividends. May God’s grace and Gurudev’s guru kripa and your own atmavisvas—right state of mind, grant you the supreme goal of liberation and divine perfection in this very birth!

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