Strategy for Success Ch. 1 Exclusive
Chapter 1: East Meets West
This book was created to provide you, the reader, with a clear and concise plan for choosing and attaining your goals. To accomplish this, we will combine traditional Western theories, ideas, and plans regarding the pursuit and attainment of our material goals and desires and the views and advice given on these matters by Eastern philosophers and spiritual teachers.
By “Western” I am referring to the use of the analytical and scientific methods and their application towards technological progress and innovation. This system has dominated Western culture since the industrial revolution and has created never-before-seen technological progress.
When referring to “Eastern” philosophies I am speaking of the spiritual philosophy and world view expounded by the great spiritual teachers, and philosophers of the East. This book will draw from the teachings and writings of the Buddha, the Christ, Sri Aurobindo, Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Radhakrishnan, Sri Chinmoy, and Rabindranath Tagore.
Modern Western culture predominantly focuses on the attainment of material gains and desire. The industrialized Western nations have been quite successful in this respect. Eastern cultures, especially India, have traditionally given more importance to inner, or spiritual, goals. Unfortunately, the methodology of the East has often been too vague and undefined for Western minds. To unite the philosophy of the East with the methodology of the West is the purpose of this writing.
This book is about success and motivation; getting what you want out of life. It is also about the untapped awareness and potential each of us can have access to. This awareness can radically change our perception of ourselves and life, and thereby affect our feelings regarding our life and goals.
One of the classics of American success and motivational philosophy is Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, written in 1937 after 20 years of research involving interviews with 504 of the most successful individuals of the Western world including businessmen, inventors, and presidents. This timeless work clearly defines the ingredients necessary for the attainment of one’s desires. It offers the reader a plan and strategy for making a certain amount of money or securing a fulfilling, rewarding job. It also offers ways to cultivate positive self imagery and goal setting.
In essence, it offers the reader the skills and tools necessary to attain, quickly and effectively, one’s desires for money and success. The book stresses a concept that was quite revolutionary in America in 1937: the importance of positive mental attitude and visualization in the attainment of one’s desires. A focused and concentrated min was recognized by Mr. Hill as being the single most important factor in successful people. He looked at situations that most people would have called “luck” or “chance” and saw that it was actually a mental attitude that created the outcome. He was one of the first Western analysts to recognize the incredible power of a focused, concentrated, and positive mind-set.
These same principles, in various forms and disguises, are expounded upon by self-help and motivational speakers and authors to this day. Unfortunately, something is missing from this philosophy of success. Significant questions regarding the choice of goals and the effects and ramifications of various pursuits are not addressed. Also, mankind’s potentialities are often severely underestimated. We often limit our awareness to material desires and neglect our spiritual possibilities.
The materialistic motivation which inspires much of our activity is never questioned. The words of Jesus offer a note of caution:
Therefore do not worry or say, what will we eat, or what will we drink, or with what will we be clothed?
For worldly people seek after all these things. Your father in heaven knows that all of these things are also necessary for you.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all those things shall be added to you.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will look after itself. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.(1)
These Western theories regarding motivation and self-help always reference a deeper intelligence that provides a key ingredient in the attainment of one’s desires. That intelligence is often called the subconscious, infinite love, intelligence, the creative force, or God. This aspect of the formuli for success is often left unexplored. Eastern philosophy deals with this subject wonderfully and can provide us with a wealth of understanding regarding this mysterious aspect of life.
Choose a desire, fixate upon it and it will be yours. This is the attitude of many motivators. We are offered the secrets of success, but little account is taken of the interconnectedness of all life and the significance of each of our desires and actions.
My uneasiness with these philosophies and practices is that they do not adequately question the unbridles pursuit of desire or the deeper significances of the pursuit. Look at America today and you can see the tragedy that results from the relentless pursuit of materialistic desire. At the same time, the West demonstrates a power and dynamism unknown to Eastern cultures, a power and dynamism that could be a great help to those nations.
Our scientific, rational understanding of the world has allowed us to create incredible technology and domination over nature. This has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. This analytical attitude toward life has also aided us in understanding the human body, although we have also lost much of our intuitive or holistic knowledge of health and healing. The scientific method has done little though when it comes to man understanding his place in this vast, mysterious world. We can analyze the distance of our solar system or the speed of light, but this knowledge has not brought us the peace of mind and heart possessed by many of the great spiritual teachers throughout history.
Eastern mystical and spiritual philosophy takes a sharply contrasting view from the Western scientific approach. Eastern philosophers and Western mystics, such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, say that the only desires that can bring us true, abiding happiness – which is admittedly what we all truly seek – are either the desire for God, the infinite and eternal, or the desire for the cessation of all desires. This philosophy is based on the idea that desire arises from the sense of self, from our ego. We seek to satiate our sense of self and ego through our multifarious activities. This sense of self is based on separation and distinction. “Me” as separate from all else. Therefore, seeking satisfaction for “me” serves to strengthen a sense of isolation and separation. This sense of self becomes ever stronger and separates us from the rest of the world. We soon find ourselves living estranged from other people and the world around us. The resulting sense of isolation and loneliness causes inner pain and suffering for many people. Each time we do things for other people we counteract this activity. A feeling of completeness, or oneness with life, is lost soon after childhood as we seek happiness in primarily selfish and self-centered ways. The Buddha’s 2500-year-old statement, “Desire is the root of all suffering,” sums up these ideas.
Admittedly, India suffers from a lack of material progress as a result of disinterest in the world bounded by time, mass, and velocity. These two contrasting philosophies of East and West leave us at extremes intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. A uniting, middle ground needs to be explored if mankind is to find the essential, delicate balance between the spiritual realm and the physical realm necessary for healthy living. Contemporary spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy writes:
Neither Spirit nor Matter is superior to the other. We will be far from Truth if we belittle Matter only to speak highly of Spirit. From Matter alone did our earthly cloak see the light of day.(2)
Sri Chinmoy is most likely the least known of the philosophers and teachers I will quote in this work. He was born in India in 1931. He spent twenty years, from the age of 12-32, in a spiritual community in Southern India. In 1964 he came to the United States and has since made his home in New York City. He lives in a modest home, yet has traveled throughout the world teaching peace, oneness, meditation, and the importance of service to humanity. All of this he does at no charge.
He supports himself through the worldwide sale of his books and tapes. He refers to himself as a “Student of Peace” and does not connect himself with any official group or association. This is a good indication of the depth and quality of Sri Chinmoy’s philosophy and life for, as the great American philosopher Thoreau, in his masterpiece Walden, stated regarding the man of wealth: “[he] is always sold to the institution which makes him rich.”
Sri Chinmoy’s writings call for the need of both material and spiritual progress. “One without the other,” he writes, “is like a bird with only one wing.”
By uniting the philosophies of East and West, we will be able to draw on the best of both of these philosophies and create for ourselves an understanding that will enable us to succeed and proceed through life in a powerful yet conscious manner. The wisdom of the East and the knowledge of the West will unite in ideas and methods we can embrace to achieve our goals.
Swami Vivekananda, an Indian spiritual teacher who spoke to enthralled crowds at the Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893 said,
We want Europe’s bright sun of intellectuality, joined with the heart of Buddha – the wonderful, infinite heart of love and mercy. This union will give us the highest philosophy. Science and religion will meet and shake hands. Poetry and philosophy will become friends. This will be the religion of the future, and if we work it out we can be sure that it will be for all times and all peoples.(3)
Far too many people live unfulfilled lives. This needs not be the norm. We all possess the wisdom to choose fulfilling desires and the ability to attain these desires. The attainment of our desires takes effort and perseverance. There is no “miracle formula” for instant success.
By incorporating Eastern philosophy into our plans and ideas regarding success we broaden our understanding. The great American philosopher Thoreau was well versed in the ancient philosophies of the East and references these in his famous book, Walden.
Eastern philosophy, particularly the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda, has also had a profound effect on many modern writers and philosophers, including Herman Hesse, Christopher Isherwood, Aldus Huxley, J.D. Salinger and Henry Miller. We can only augment our knowledge and wisdom by utilizing this timeless wisdom.
Beyond the realm of body and mind, Eastern philosophy references the realm of spirit and soul. Christ, himself a man of the Middle East, said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within.” It was this kingdom that he advocated realizing and attaining above all else. It is at this point that many flee society and responsibility to seek truth or happiness in solitude and through the denial of day-to-day life. Yet, as Mahatma Gandhi, a great philosopher and world transformer said,
If I could persuade myself that I should find God in a Himalayan cave, I would proceed there immediately. But I know that I cannot find him apart from humanity.(4)
It is from this vein of Eastern philosophy that we begin this journey. We must accept and live in this world, yet achieve or change things so as to increase both ours and the world’s happiness and well being. We all ultimately seek only one thing: happiness. This takes many forms for many people. The role of this book is not to dictate and proclaim this or that as the true form of happiness, but rather to offer the reader a means of attaining his or her personal form of happiness.
The concept of intuition and one’s heart-felt feeling play an important role in any spiritual quest. The mind, although a powerful use of our intelligence, is not the final step in mankind’s evolution. Einstein attributed many of his discoveries to moments of insight and intuition. We must learn to acknowledge and trust our feelings when seeking our goals.
This book may introduce a few terms that are new to the reader, yet they will prove extremely helpful for our grasp of new ideas and ways of seeing our potential. Eastern philosophies often divide man into five aspects: body, vital, mind, heart, and soul.
The body is our physical existence.
The vital is our storehouse of earthbound energy, passion, and emotion that sustains our earthy existence. Vital energy encompasses everything from enthusiasm, excitement, and passion to frustration and anger.
Our mind, which is often mistakenly considered the pinnacle of our capacities, is the ability of thought, our thinking process. Beyond the realm of mind is our spiritual heart. The heart is that aspect of ourselves which embodies the qualities of love, oneness, and compassion. The heart though is not invincible. Even when aware of that part of ourselves, we can still fall under the influences of insecurity and self-doubt, which are generated in the mind and vital.
Beyond the realm of the heart is the soul. The soul is our direct connection with God, or as Sri Chinmoy says, “The Supreme.” The soul is a spark of the eternal within us, undying and immortal. A conscious communion with this aspect of ourselves is the essence of all spiritual quests. Jesus taught, “The kingdom of heaven is within.” This heaven is our soul, the spark of the eternal within our beings. In Eastern philosophy the terms “self-realization” and “God-realization” are used interchangeably to describe the state of being of one who has achieved this ecstasy with the eternal. This awareness is surely not the monopoly of the East and has been described by man Western mystics including St. Augustine, St. John, of the Cross, and Theresa of Avila.
Truly spiritual men and women use the word God, not to expound their particular conception or ideal of God, but to encompass the beliefs and ideals of all humanity. God has infinite attributes including Power, Peace, Joy and Satisfaction. Every man and woman is capable of realizing their oneness with the source of all creation.
“Aspiration” is another term that will be used in this writing. It means one’s effort towards worldly pursuits. For example: Her desire was for fame and fortune, her aspiration was for oneness and humility. This differentiation is made not to create a vocabulary of spiritual elitism but to create a vernacular that distinguishes between mankind’s myriad range of desires. The Eskimo language contains twenty-four words to describe snow. They know snow. It will help us in our understanding to differentiate between desire and aspiration. Desire is our movement to satisfy our ego and sense of separate self. Aspiration is our yearning for an awareness of our soul and a connectedness with humanity and life. We will also distinguish between success, as an outer achievement, and progress, as an inner achievement.
By placing the profound depths of Eastern philosophy within the framework of Western thought, analysis and organization, we will develop and cultivate a system that will help us to achieve all of our goals and life desires in a safe and harmonious manner. In a combination of the beat from East and West, we will find a unification of spirit and matter, science and spirituality.
Let us begin our journey towards success and progress with open hearts and minds, for as Mr. Hill noted more than half a century ago, “There are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge.”
Sri Chinmoy writes: “It is a true truth that life was fast asleep in matter, and mind was fast asleep in life; now without the least hesitation we can say that something lies fast asleep in mind. The wheel of evolution ever moves – it stops not.”(5) That which lies asleep in mind is our untapped and unknown potential. A potential and realm of possibility we will now unleash.
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