Learn how to direct ambitions for achieving lasting goals.
Be ambitious”, the world goads us. A huge flat, row house, bungalow, mansion, villa. When does the ambitious chase after the mirages of material pleasures end? Never. All that we get is endless labor and perpetual dissatisfaction. Worse still, we live tormented by anxiety because our self worth (happiness?) depends entirely on unpredictable, uncontrollable externals. The neighbor gets a jazzier mobile than ours, the shares we have invested in crash. And worst of all, struggling to achieve our self created (“society-imposed” describes it better) goals leaves us with no time for our spiritual nourishment. Greed, stress, envy, worry, spiritual starvation where is happiness?
To find real happiness, we need to recognize that all of us have two conflicting forces within our psyche a centrifugal force that directs our quest for enjoyment outwards to the endless parade of sense objects and a centripetal force that directs us inwards to the all attractive reservoir of all pleasure, God, Krsna, residing in our own hearts. In most people the centrifugal force is so overwhelmingly powerful that they their centripetal force becomes almost imperceptible.
Our society, culture, media, billboards continuously adds vectors to the centrifugal force already raging within us. Will we become happy by earning more and accumulating more? Never. Because, no matter how much we have, the centrifugal force will keep dragging us outwards to get still more.
To find satisfaction, we need to change our lifestyle from centrifugal to centripetal. The first step in bringing about this lifestyle change is education, spiritual education. The Bhagavad gita (2.13) explains that our present existence is twodimensional: We are souls, spiritual beings, animating material bodies, like drivers animating their cars. Ambassador, Fiat, Maruti, Mercedes are certainly different kinds of cars. But imagine two persons: One has a posh Mercedes, but is lost, not knowing there is a home even, and is spending all his time just furnishing and polishing his car. The other person has a simple Fiat, but knows the way home and is heading straight there. Who’s better off?
To sustain the intelligence necessary for a centripetal lifestyle, we need to regularly associate with centripetally oriented scientists spiritual activists devoted to the service of God and the welfare of humanity and to see for ourselves how less is more; how their seeming lack of external possessions is more than compensated for by internal enrichment. These spiritual scientists will offer us periodic centripetal pushes. The most sustainable centripetal propeller for our steady inner journey is the holy name like the Hare Krsna maha mantra. The holy name not only effectively counters the centrifugal passions, but also efficaciously kindles our dormant zeal for centripetal research. This centripetal research culminates in the greatest discovery of our lives the discovery of Krsna, the source of all happiness. And then we won’t need to demand the Nobel Prize to reassure ourselves of our success for that will be another centrifugal illusion. Instead we will nobly share our prize with everyone by inspiring and guiding them to become centripetal millionaires.
Therefore as intelligent people, let’s chose to be spiritually ambitious. Then we will rediscover our spiritual peacefulness and joyfulness, re awaken our innate love for God and become truly happy in this life and the next.
To help us stay focused on our goal, the Bhagavad-gita (5.21) recommends, “Detached from external sense pleasures, concentrating on inner spiritual happiness, a spiritualist progressively becomes situated on the spiritual platform and attains imperishable happiness.” In our cultural context, this two point formula means:
1. Materially see those who are below us having lower salaries, smaller houses, fewer or simpler gadgets and be satisfied with what we have. 2. Spiritually see those who are above us investing more time in meditation and chanting of holy names and follow in their footsteps.
Caitanya Carana Dasa holds a degree in electronics and telecommunications engineering and serves fulltime at ISKCON Pune. To subscribe to his free cyber magazine, visit thespiritualscientist.com.