True Success


Sri Swami Atmaswarupananda

Fourth Early Morning Meditation Talk given during the Annual Christmas Retreat–Spirituality Means Change–in Gurudev’s sacred Samadhi Hall, Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh.

No matter the difficulties in the meantime, the promise of the spiritual life is a peace that passeth understanding, joy, total satisfaction. We think of these characteristics in terms of our own understanding, but our own understanding may not be the scriptural definition.

For example, one description of that exalted condition is that success and failure are the same. And yet we are urged to be determined to succeed and to do everything we can to achieve the goal; because if we sit back with the attitude that success and failure are the same, it is not likely we will make much progress in the spiritual life. Therefore, we must be determined to succeed and refuse to fail.

But then, it is the experience of most of us that our own efforts don’t seem to get us too far. And so ultimately we begin to understand that because we’re going from the known to the Unknown we need a guide. In the earlier stages normally that guide will be external, a guru, the scriptures. But finally they turn us to an inner guide. There is something within–beyond our mind–that we must rely upon for guidance. And the more we practise this, the more valid we find it to be. But still we want to succeed. We haven’t really surrendered to that inner Guide, because we have our own ideas of what success is.

But perhaps the true measurement of success is simply the degree to which we surrender to that inner guidance. If we come to recognise this, then we begin to get a glimpse of what is meant by success and failure being the same. Our only criteria of success is to depend upon that inner guidance. What the outward result of that guidance is no longer matters to us; we are living on a different basis.

This is one way of understanding the theme of the retreat: Spirituality Means Change. It means a gradual change from being determined to succeed in achieving a goal of our imagination to a recognition that true success is in letting go of all our goals, and being an instrument of that inner guidance.

There is, of course, a factor in us that does not want this surrender. That factor is what we call ego. But there is also within us a wisdom that knows that that is the goal and that that is a peace that passes understanding.

This is the change we want to bring about, a change from our own wisdom to the wisdom of our inner Self, our inner Guide. And this is possible for any of us no matter what our outer circumstances may be.

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