Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Basis of Success

The Basis of Success in all Human Endeavours

Sri Swami Chidananda

(Reproduced by kind permission of Swami Padmanabhananda, the Divine Life Society)


I want to bring to you a little message that holds the central secrets of success in attaining the goal of life. As a matter of fact, it contains the basis of success in all human endeavours, no matter in which area it might be. An effort will succeed if these secrets are utilised—even if the effort is pointed in the wrong direction. If you want to become the Al Capone of the underworld and shine as the Number One Crook, if you apply this method you are bound to succeed! If you apply it in any direction, it will give you success. However, we are more concerned about using this to find success in our spiritual life than we are in becoming Number One Crook!

Two great laws are at the back of this secret, and the first one is: What you think, that you become. This is a universal law. You should always ceaselessly affirm that which you want to become, and then one day you will end up becoming that. This law is inevitable and nothing can hold it back. The second great law is: Persistent effort in any one direction overcomes all obstacles. No obstacle can withstand the assault of persistent effort. That is why in the Srimad Bhagavad Gita, when Arjuna tells Krishna that it is impossible to control the mind, Krishna replies that if one keeps on persisting in this effort, one will overcome, and the mind will be subdued. Persistence overcomes all obstacles and ultimately reaches its goal. Whatever it is you are pursuing, you will get it with persistent effort.


What You Think, That You Become

 The first law is once again: what you think, that you become. Think you are good for nothing, and you become good for nothing. But, how could you really be good for nothing? It is an insult to God to think that you are good for nothing. Maybe your goodness is temporarily covered up, but it is in fact there. If you think that you have got the potential for everything beautiful, then you will become that. Think like God, and you will become like God. Think like a sinner, and you will become like that. Think that you are unhealthy and weak, and you will always be in a mess regarding health. Think that you are full of health and strength, and you will end up becoming healthy. Because you are thinking that way, those conditions become actualised.

This is the law that Vedanta invokes in its approach. It rejects the assumption that you are only this conglomeration of flesh, bones and organs. It asserts that you are the Atman—ever-pure, ever-perfect and divine. At any stage, if there is a wave of anger or jealousy, you assert that you are not this anger or jealousy. You have nothing to do with it, for you are the Atman, which is always full of peace, joy and light. Reject the different conditions of mind and intellect, and affirm your all-full divine spiritual nature.

If you are always fearful of things, you will attract to yourself conditions of fear. Have firm trust in God, and all conditions will correct themselves. They come and then they go when you do not respond to them. You do not allow them to hold onto you, because you have made yourself a centre of faith and fearlessness. This great law very much governs your entire life. Invoke this law and think of what you want to become. "I am the Atman; I am a child of God; I am shining with divine radiant spirit."

These thoughts should occupy your mind day and night, waking, dreaming and sleeping. We must affirm this truth by repeating it, visualising it in our mind, writing it down, and by practising it. We must try to bring this feeling into our daily lives—even in the midst of the most adverse conditions. You must persist in being what you are. This great law is the secret of success in your spiritual life. This practice requires no previous background, so start right now from where you are. One day success and fulfilment will be yours.


The Law of Persistence

The second great law is, once again, that persistent effort overcomes all obstacles. As an example, I could describe a situation found at the public water taps in rural India. The entire locality has to fetch its water only from that one tap, because there is no proper water supply in most parts of the country. Sometimes these taps go out of order and cannot be completely closed, and the faucet keeps dripping on the granite stone, and a hole is made in the stone just from the accumulated effect of these drops of water!

There is another phenomenon observed with the wells used in India. When the rope is used to pull the bucket up out of a well, the rope rubs against a granite slab that serves as the wall of the well. After a few years, the constant rubbing of the rope causes a groove to be formed in the granite. Taking this as an example, one can say that nothing can withstand the power of persistent effort. No matter how difficult or how slow the process seems, don’t despair, and be sure to keep on persisting. Bondage does not easily give way, but one must continuously keep trying to get free of it. One day it will give way.

Long, long ago in ancient India the forest-dwelling sages had to make a fire sacrifice every day. They did not have matches, so the only way to have fire available whenever they wanted it was to have the fire burning twenty-four hours a day. However, on very special occasions they did not make use of this ordinary fire, and a new fire needed to be started and used specifically for that purpose. To start the fire, they used a block of heavy wood with a slight circular depression in the middle. A peg was rubbed against the wood, and as they persisted in the rubbing, slowly heat was produced at the point of contact. They had cotton or dried fibres of plants or wood bark and kept it close to the heat, and at some point the fuel suddenly caught fire. It might have taken an hour and a half to light the fire, but through that effort the sacred fire was created. Even so, just as persistent effort ultimately brought forth fire where it did not exist, persistent effort in your spiritual life will bring forth illumination where it might not have been before. Similarly, if you are looking for water, you must start digging and keep on digging, and eventually you will get water.

These are examples given by the great teachers to put heart into the seeker. In spiritual sadhana, persistent effort overcomes all obstacles standing in the way and ultimately secures its ends. There is nothing that persistent effort cannot bring to you. To prove this point, the stories of the Puranas abound with narrations of numerous instances in the past where seemingly impossible things were achieved through sheer force of persistence. One great classical example was the story of a certain sage who lost his entire family in a tragic circumstance, and the funeral rites were never performed for them. Many generations afterwards, this fact was brought to the attention of one young man of that family line. Their ashes had been scattered in some region, but the celestial River Ganges needed to pass over these ashes in order to purify them.

This young man resolved to bring the Ganges down to earth, and to do so he renounced everything and started doing penance. He persisted so long that ultimately the gods had to yield, and they asked the Ganges to descend and honour his request. One further obstacle though was that the descent might destroy the earth, so through more of the young man’s penance, Lord Siva consented to take the immense flow of the river on his own head. Yet, for various other reasons the young man had to do even more penance to finally fulfil his goal. His name, Bhagiratha, has become a byword for great persistence and extraordinary effort.


  1. thanks so much for sharing this very enlightening and uplifting source of information. It is what I need at this time :)

  2. I am happy you found this enlightening Tamara. :) I am a great believer in the idea that we are often moved to say or write something that is exactly what someone needed to hear or read, and I am glad that happened here.

    Keep coming back to my blog, and you should find more material that will help you.

  3. I am practicing this since last five years but
    the result is slow. Even persistent efforts do not show evident results but drag us to some other field. After doing persistent efforts we have to wait patiently for the outcome. If the outcome is negative, may be we have not done it in right directions.