Success and progress1[Excerpt from the introduction by Dr John Philip Posey, Associate Professor of History and Director of Non-Western Core Programme: "I was delighted that a rather eminent religious leader was going to be in the Midwest giving a series of lectures here. He seemed to be interested in coming down to Indiana, so I jumped at the opportunity. I was a little bit concerned that this Wednesday morning would not be a time to get too many people to a lecture, but somehow my illusions have been smashed…"]
Dr Posey, I am most grateful to you for your kind words. Since last evening, your heart of magnanimity has touched my heart most deeply. In silence I pray to the Almighty Father to grant you His choicest Love and Blessings. Human life is a series of experiences. Six years ago, while I was in Puerto Rico, I went to a chapel and was insulted and scolded vehemently by the Mother Superior. What was my crime? That I was an Indian, a Hindu, and I entered a Christian chapel. But today at St Joseph's College I am basking in the kindness of everyone here. Both experiences I offer at the Feet of the Almighty Father.
I am a seeker. I am a devoted brother of mankind. I try to serve the Almighty Father in each of my brothers and sisters. And if anybody asks, my foremost qualification is that I am a humble lover of humanity. Dear sisters and brothers, dear seekers of the Infinite Truth, we are all seated in a boat. The name of this boat is God's Dream-Boat, and our Pilot is the Lord Supreme. He is carrying us to the shores of the Golden Beyond. I wish to give a short talk on success in the life of desire and progress in the life of aspiration.
Success we want; progress we need. When we live in the word of desire, teeming desire, we want success. We feel that it is everything. But when we live in the world of aspiration, we come to realise that what we actually need is progress, continual and constant progress.
Success gives us name and fame. Progress gives us a higher inspiration, a deeper faith and a stronger assurance.
Our success is immediately claimed by many. It is claimed even by those who had nothing to do with its advent. But our progress is treasured by only one Person, our eternally beloved Father Supreme.
Success is the song of possession. We want to possess the world, but to our wide surprise we see that before we can possess even one person on earth, we have been mercilessly possessed and bound by the world at large.
Possession, ambition and outer success go together. The strength of ambition finally offers us success. But the strength of surrender to the Almighty Father grants us progress, which is what the Supreme wants from our lives.
When ambition becomes our bosom friend, when our inner being is surcharged with determination, we achieve success. But we have to realise that in the spiritual life when we offer and surrender our ambition to the Source, we make true progress. And in this progress we find real fulfilment. When we succeed in something in the outer world, we feel that we have done it in spite of opposition from the entire world. We feel that it is by virtue of our own capacities that we have achieved our desired success. But when we make progress — no matter in which field — within the inmost recesses of our heart we come to feel that the entire world helped us, that each individual on earth has helped us in some way or other according to his capacity.
A man of success, the moment he achieves success, starts adding up all the difficulties and dangers he encountered before success dawned in his life. A man of progress, the moment he makes progress in his life of experience or in his life of realisation, starts counting all the blessings he received from Above. Finally, he realises that the door of opportunity is marked by both "push" and "pull". He pushes aside his life of bondage, his life of ignorance, his life of countless imperfections. He pulls down from Above Peace, Light and Bliss in boundless measure — slowly, steadily, devotedly and unerringly.
Renunciation is progress. We renounce our life of ignorance, our life of teeming doubts. Here I wish to recall the message of the Upanishadic lore:
The whole world is owned by the Lord Supreme. Let us not hunger after others' possessions. In renunciation is the satisfaction everlasting: in renunciation we drink the Nectar-Delight of the Absolute."
Progress is like a lotus that blossoms petal by petal. Each time a petal comes into existence we feel that a new dedication, a new hope, a new self-mastery dawns in our life of service to aspiring mankind.
Success and progress on the human level are two so-called rivals. Success wants to please itself according to its own receptivity's capacity. Progress wants to please God unconditionally in His own Way. My experience tells me that success has a short life which, at the same time, is dubious and precarious. My realisation tells me that progress has an everlasting and ever-transcending life. We achieve today's goal on the strength of our progress, which is founded on aspiration — our mounting inner cry. But then, today's goal becomes tomorrow's starting point. Tomorrow we have to start for a higher goal. Each time we reach a goal, our aspiration tells us that it is only the starting point for a higher, more meaningful and more fruitful goal. We are in the process of constantly transcending our reality. And the ever-transcending Reality is the Golden Shore of the ever-transcending Beyond.
Today's imperfect man, today's unlit man, grows into tomorrow's perfect and fully illumined man only when he feels that progress is the only thing that he needs. Each time we climb to a higher rung of the ladder of progress, we automatically achieve success — inner success. But if we run after success, there is every possibility that we may adopt foul means and do undivine things, because we are competing with others with whom we have not yet established a sense of inseparable oneness. When we want progress, we feel that if we have to compete with anyone or anything at all, our enemies are within us: fear, doubt, anxiety, worries, insecurity.
In order to reach the highest Goal, we must have faith in abundant measure, both in ourselves and in the Almighty Father. If we do not have faith in the Almighty Father all at once, no harm. Out of His infinite Bounty, He will illumine us, guide us, perfect us and fulfil us at His choice Hour. But if we lose faith in ourselves or if we are wanting in faith in our life of aspiration and dedication, then we shall be devoured by the ignorance-tiger. At that time nobody will come to our rescue.
We and God must have reciprocal faith. Our faith in God will make us His chosen instruments. His faith in us will inspire us to manifest Him totally, unreservedly and perfectly here on earth. Our faith in Him will give us what we desperately need — realisation. His faith in us will give Him the opportunity to manifest Himself in and through us. We need Him for our highest realisation; He, out of His infinite Kindness, needs us for His divine Manifestation.
Faith is the only thing that makes us feel that we are part and parcel of Eternity, Infinity and Immortality. Eternity, Infinity and Immortality are not vague terms. They are realities growing and glowing in the heart of the genuine seeker. When we have faith in abundant measure, the Lord Supreme assures us that in and through us He will manifest His perfect Perfection.
FFB 34. Conference Room 1, Halleck Building, St Joseph's College, Rensselaer, Indiana, 13 February 1974 — morning.↩