You must have heard of Michael Jordan, the famous basketball champ. In 1978, the 15-year old Michael Jordan tried out for the varsity basketball team at Laney High School. But when the list was posted, Jordan’s name wasn’t there on it. Looking at his age, the coaches had, rightly so, assigned him to the junior varsity team; but Jordan felt insulted. He was devastated to see the main list not carrying his name. Jordan was so heartbroken that he was ready to give up the sport altogether.
But soon, he collected himself and decided to start from scratch. He let this very failure and disappointment drive him to become better. He played on the junior varsity team and he worked himself to the limit. “Whenever I was working out and got tired and figured I ought to stop, I’d close my eyes and see that list without my name on it, and that usually got me going again”; this relentless drive finally led him to break numerous records and become one of the best players in NBA.
Insults are like vitamins
At every point in life, generally, our intellect is habituated to constantly weighing benefit v/s loss. In our worldly interactions, the intellect has always considered respect to be beneficial. However, eastern philosophy says, “It is the insult that is very beneficial.”
While respect tastes very sweet, the ego finds the taste of insult very bitter. We are obviously fond of sweet taste but not the bitter. So while respect is food, the insult acts like a vitamin for one’s robust growth. Every insulting situation makes us more strong, humble, understanding, and mature in life, provided we learn how to use the stones thrown at us in constructing a powerful bridge to cross over from a state of failure to the state of excellence.
This example of Michael Jordan goes to show that you certainly can start from scratch and be immensely successful.
And once you learn ‘how’ to be successful, it’s important to assess the ‘why’ part of it
Why do you want to be immensely successful? What is the motive, the reason, the driving force behind it? This is an important question as it determines the direction one is headed.
For instance, if it is a feeling of being better, greater, and more important as compared to others that one is looking for, ‘I have done such and such extraordinary things, I have a superior control over things which others don’t have, I am the winner while rest have failed; I am a famous name now, etc”, it is a pursuit of pride, which only grows farther with success. But it’s a meaningless race! The feeling no doubt seems sweet at first; however, its end result is utter bitterness, turmoil, and pain.
Success generally inflates one’s ego. And as this ego gathers strength, the maximum harm it does is to one’s own self. The desire to be ahead of everyone or wanting to show others that you are something inevitably pulls the person down. The intoxication of ‘I am something’ deforms the ego. No one likes such a person; one appears ugly before people, no matter how beautiful a face one may have been gifted with. This undue importance of the `I’ leads to continuous inner conflict, struggle, and pain as one has to constantly maintain his importance all the time.
Hence, Gnani, an enlightened teacher, warns, “To remain preoccupied with ‘where will I get respect from, how can I get respect and recognition in the eyes of the world’ and constantly use one’s energies in it, is gravely dangerous.”
It is due to ignorance and egoism that one does so
Lord Mahavir was a King who had enormous wealth and had everything that is required to lead a happy life. He was immensely successful! Yet his desire was to realize the ultimate truth and attain salvation only. So, he left every possession that was obstructing his path of liberation.
In every adverse circumstance, he stayed calm and composed and dealt with it equanimously. It is easy to be happy when one is immensely successful in worldly life. But the real success is when we are smiling even when things go dead wrong. Lord Mahavir could do this because his ignorance and egoism were gone. He had the Self-Realization that ‘I am a Pure Soul.’
Activities undertaken with false identification of ‘I am the body’ or ‘I am the name given to this body’ induce karmic particles to stay with the Soul. One tries to protect his false pride and safeguards it throughout all attacks. He gets attached to those who give respect and rejects those who bring unhappiness or insults in his life.
But when one achieves Self-Realization, the belief of, ‘I am the body; I am the doer’ drops. When the ego of doership crashes, God manifests within us. Pride melts away as ego cannot get inflated anymore. Once the attachment with the body withers away, it does not arise again, and one attains salvation i.e. becomes free from the cycle of birth and death.
So, just as a prolonged dream comes to an abrupt end upon awakening, karmas accumulated through infinite past lives can be extinguished in one go by a master. One then starts from scratch to be immensely successful, but in the real world (where I am the Pure Soul), and not in the illusory world (where I am the body) anymore. The way to be successful in the real world is fairly simple and straightforward when one follows an enlightened Soul such as Christ, Buddha, etc.
So while you are young, you must look at attaining Self-Realization and progressing on the path of real success – that, to my mind, is the right direction to go….👍