In general, it’s essential that we use our own will power to reach our goals. But we must also remember that there’s “success in failure”―in knowing how to go through life’s difficult experiences and come out stronger. You don’t have to be a slave to your bad karma. You created that karma, the energy you put out in the past, but if you put out the right kind of energy now you can overcome it.
Every hardship that you meet with the right attitude and energy makes you stronger and helps remove some of your karmic burden. To get through life’s difficult periods, it helps to do two things. We must first learn to accept difficulties, and we must learn the art of overcoming them.
Learning to accept your difficulties doesn’t mean that if the world treats you badly you should wait meekly to be kicked again. You don’t have to be a door mat, but you don’t have to fight back, either.
Success depends to a great extent on a willingness to accept reality exactly as it is, as something to be faced squarely if you can’t control it. When you thus accept reality, your energy becomes positive, and with that kind of positive mental attitude, directed wisely, you can turn your failures into success.
When I speak of success, I don’t mean the kind of success that comes to you on a platter, due to your past good karma. If you passively ride that wave, you won’t be making progress. The energy you put out through your own hard work and perseverance is the real source of your highest success.
Some people I knew decided to start a company. They were very excited, talking about the millions they would make. But I could see that they weren’t putting out the right energy to earn those millions―and in fact the business never got off the ground.
The most successful people are often those who have had to overcome the most, because they’ve had to put out a great deal of energy to transcend their challenges.
Don’t worry about the obstacles you face. See them dispassionately as things to overcome. If you put out energy of the right kind and quantity, the results will take care of themselves.
Success in anything requires that we put out concentrated energy. One-pointed concentration, directed with will power and energy, generates a powerful magnetic field that can attract success to you. So do everything with keen interest. People who work with only half their mind never succeed.
Equally important is to have “solution consciousness.” Don’t mix with people who only see the obstacles, but with those who find solutions and succeed in their efforts.
When I see people with problem consciousness, I keep them at a distance. I don’t mean to be unfriendly, but low-energy people can pull you down with their failure consciousness.
The solutions to our challenges are always available on a subtle level. When you are solution-conscious, you can put out the kind of magnetism that will attract success, and a higher force begins to work with you. You’ll be amazed how often answers will come to you, apparently “out of the blue.”
Similarly, when you become deeply concentrated, as in meditation, you reach a superconscious level of awareness. At that level, God can work through you. By becoming open to His inspiration, you can accomplish things well beyond your self-perceived abilities.
What are we really looking for when we think of success? Many people think, “When I have money, I’ll be happy.” The truth is that people with a great deal of money are often among the most miserable.
Nor does human love bring you happiness. That is perhaps the greatest delusion of all. Everybody wants a mate, and I’m not saying it’s a bad thing by itself, but it’s such a compromise with what the heart really wants. We’re looking for perfection of love, and we won’t find it in another person. In fact, you won’t find fulfillment in anything unless you have it in yourself.
The success you’re looking for doesn’t depend on anything external. It depends on your attitudes and your inner self. The more you can share with others whatever life gives you, the more you will find the kind of success you’re truly looking for―which is happiness.
A few years ago, I went into a shop in Italy to buy a hat to protect me from the sun. I don’t usually wear hats, so I asked the woman working there, “Which hat do your customers like best?” She said, “They pay me and they leave. I have no more interest in them.”
I said, “Here you are, wasting eight hours a day thinking only of how much money you’re going to get, and not seeing these people as an opportunity to make friends? You’re not finding happiness in your work, because you aren’t thinking of how to make other people happy. What is the use of living like that?” I left and didn’t buy a hat.
The next year, I was in that town again and I happened to walk by the same shop. The woman was outside, and when she saw me she came up to me with tears in her eyes. She said, “Thank you. You taught me a very good lesson.” She was weeping because it was so important to her to understand that simple principle.
When a person seeks the best for everyone, actively and generously, his chances of finding happiness are great. When you give, you feel more bliss, because you’re expanding beyond the little ego.
The world has a million ways of involving you. The more you get caught up in the outward aspect of life, the more you will have to deal with the duality of it. Every success will be balanced by a failure, every victory by a defeat.
But the more you can remain even-minded and cheerful at all times, the more you can level out the duality and achieve the kind of success that is worthwhile. It depends entirely upon your courage and equanimity, especially your refusal to be upset when things don’t go well.
If you take everything that comes to you with that attitude of courage and even-mindedness, even the worst failure can bring success. I’ve had many failures. I’m grateful for them, because they’ve helped me develop the power to find the success I truly want.
How do you develop that kind of inner power? The more you can live centered in the spine, the less anything will be able to touch you. This is why Kriya Yoga is such an important science. Kriya helps you get control over the energy in your spine and raise your energy and consciousness toward God, who is beyond the states of duality.
When your mind is settled within, you find that you are always happy because you experience the joy of the soul, to which there is no opposite. You are joy. It’s not something you have to achieve by getting anything.
Always remember that God is not up in some heaven. He’s part of your consciousness. The more you open yourself to Him, the more you’ll find that whatever you need―opportunities, inspiration, understanding―will come to you. But if you turn away from God, even a little, you begin to lose that grace.
You have to hold your consciousness constantly up to Him. If you can do this, you’ll find success in whatever you do, and also the highest kind of success: the experience of God’s bliss within.
Swami Kriyananda (born J. Donald Walters) was only 22 when he became a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, the author of Autobiography of a Yogi. At Yogananda’s request, Swami Kriyananda devoted his life to lecturing and writing, helping others to experience the living presence of God within. He founded the Ananda community.