Society and culture determine what it means to be a success and drill it into our heads, day and night. Stop to consider this: Having a good job or being famous or having a great reputation has absolutely nothing to do with happiness or success. Nothing!
It is totally irrelevant. Do you want to be one of those people who society says made it? Made what?! Made asses of themselves because they drained all their energy getting something that was worthless. They’re frightened and confused. Do you call that a success? They are controlled and manipulated. They are miserable. They don’t enjoy life. They are constantly tense and anxious. Do you call that human?
If you contemplate this long enough, you will experience a disgust so deep that you will instinctively fling every attachment away as you would toss away a serpent that has settled on you. You will revolt and break loose from this putrid culture that is based on acquisitiveness and attachment, anxiety and greed, and on the hardness and insensitivity of non-love.
Wake up! You don’t need this. It’s wasting your life. You can be blissfully happy without your attachments. People think that if they had no cravings, they would be like deadwood, but in fact they would lose their tension. If you get rid of your fear of failure and drop your tensions about succeeding, you will be yourself. You will be relaxed. You won’t be driving with your brakes on. That’s what would happen.
There’s a lovely account from Tranxu, a great Chinese sage, which goes: “When the archer shoots for no particular prize, he has all his skills. When he shoots to win a brass buckle, he is already nervous. When he shoots for a gold prize, he goes blind, sees two targets, and is out of his mind. His skill has not changed, but the prize divides him. He cares! He thinks more of winning than of shooting, and the need to win drains him of power.”
Isn’t that an image of most people?
When you’re living for nothing, you’ve got all your skills, you’ve got all your energy, you’re relaxed, and you don’t care. It doesn’t matter to you whether you win or lose. Now there’s human living for you. That’s what life is all about.
The mystics and the prophets didn’t bother one bit about honor. Honor or disgrace meant nothing to them. They were living in another world, the world of the awakened. Success or failure meant nothing to them.
Excerpted from Stop Fixing Yourself, by Anthony De Mello (1931-1987). Edited by Don Goewey
Anthony De Mello was a Jesuit priest born in Bombay, India, in 1931. He is regarded as one of the foremost spiritual teachers of the twentieth century, respected widely for his groundbreaking and enduring work that integrates Western and Eastern spirituality. De Mello founded the Sadhana Institute in India and is the author of the bestselling masterpieces Awareness and The Way to Love, along with eleven other books that have been translated into twenty-one languages and have sold more than two million copies worldwide. His large body of work continues to have impact beyond his untimely death in 1987. Some of our era’s most acclaimed spiritual teachers have acknowledged the liberating and elevating impact of De Mello’s practical spirituality, including Rhonda Byrne, Eckhart Tolle, Neil Strauss, Adyashanti, Thomas Moore, and Paulo Coelho. Visit the De Mello Spirituality Center: demellospirituality.com.