Question: Is it necessary to be successful in order to lead a happy life?
Acharya Prashant: Let us, first of all, understand something. You are assuming that we all want happiness. That’s not a fact. You will feel little surprised, but I am insisting, we do not want happiness. All we want is freedom from sadness. Because you are sad, that is your real experience, you are sad, you want freedom from sadness. And what do you conclude? See, we live in a world of duality. If I want freedom from day, what do I get? Night. Its opposite. Are you getting it?
You want freedom from winters, what do you get? Summers. The opposite. So what do you think is, that freedom from one thing is a movement into its opposite. That’s your assumption. I am insisting that nobody in this world wants happiness. We want freedom from sadness, and we have erroneously concluded that freedom from sadness means happiness. Because we live in duality, that has been our experience.
Happiness is a kind of an excitement, attention. You cannot handle too much of happiness. And if you have happiness, then happiness will lose its value. Fact is you are sad. That is acceptable. You are sad. You want freedom from sadness, but that freedom from sadness is not happiness. That freedom is freedom from sadness and happiness both.
You are saying, “Is it necessary to be successful in order to be happy?” First of all see that you want to be successful because you are sad. Because you are sad, you want to be successful. No man who is not sad will try to be successful. When you are calm, relaxed, loving, in that matter, in that movement, is there anything called success. Do you bother for success? You don’t, right?
Success, achievement, these thoughts come to you only when you’re feeling down, only when you feel life has not been good to me, only when you feel I have lost out on something. Then you say I want to be successful, right? So, the thought of success itself is a very sad thought. Do you see this? The thought of success itself arises only in a sad mind. When the thought itself arises from a sad mind, how can this so-called success give you happiness? Just get rid of the sadness. Don’t chase happiness. There is no point chasing happiness, just get rid of sadness. And what is sadness? This thought of success. This thought of success itself is sadness. Get rid of it.
It arises because of an artificial sense of inadequacy that we have. Unnecessarily we have been forced to believe that this is missing, that is missing. We find it very hard to accept that life is a simple, continuous, innocent festival. It’s very difficult to accept. We have been trained to accept that life is effort, challenge, war, accomplishment. We will become terrified if told that life is not any of these. You are not here to work hard and attain something. That is not at all why you are here.
You say then, “Why are we here, just like this?” Yes just like this. Relax, dance, enjoy. Nothing more nothing less. But even these words are giving you tension. “We will have to relax now? Where to learn that from? BRE: Bachelors in relaxation, you need a degree even for that.” You lost all touch with that which is innate.
Will you remember this? Will you figure this out why do you feel successful, why do you feel all these thoughts, why do you feel that success is important? Will you?
The question is so obtuse.
A sad mind is saying, “Will sadness give me happiness, will success give me happiness?” Success itself is sadness. Because you are sad so you want to escape into its opposite. But that will not help. Freedom from a thing is not the same as moving into its opposite. It is a very poor bargain. “I wanted freedom from the day, so I moved into the night”, and then nothing has really changed. You were suffering in the day, now you are suffering in the night. How has anything changed? Though everything is changed, you have moved into the opposite.
So you are sufferings in sadness and now you are suffering in happiness, how has anything changed? And then again you will jump back to sadness. For the happy man it is very important that it becomes sad again. Only then the cycle can continue. See, if you want to be happy then you first must be?
AP: If you want to be more happy then you must be?
L: More sad.
AP: If you want to be again happy then you must be?
L: Again sad.
AP: The cycle must continue. Only when you are sad, that you want to be happy. It is the ‘want’ that counts. It is the feeling of escape that counts for you. “So, sad, I want to go somewhere else.” Where? “In the happy zone.” In happiness, the mind will plot to move their way into the sad zone. It is the escape that counts, I must escape somehow.
-Excerpts from a ‘Shabd-Yoga’ session. Edited for clarity
Watch the session: Acharya Prashant: Do success and happiness go together?
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