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Saturday April 23 2005 08:58 IST

By Karmayogi

To be called ambitious is a curse. Man is to do his work and not ask for the results. To look for the results of his own work is not spiritually permissible. In the first half of the 20th century, a man would be ashamed of seeking a promotion which was his due. When Sir S. Radhakrishnan was Vice-chancellor of Andhra University, he stopped a professor in the veranda and warned him of a young entrant into his department, saying, He is ambitious, be cautious. To aspire for the throne in the days of monarchy was treason and would cost a persons head. What was permissible in Europe and India in those days was aspiration for service or God. Ambition was a curse word.

The United States is what it is today because everyone there was ambitious to rise in the society. They coined the phrase gate-crashing young man. On any showing, ambition will not gain respectability. Still, it is the ambitious people who are successful. Man adores success and longs for it. What is the truth?

From the days of the Mahabharata, or those of ancient Greece, the world has not discovered the TRUE motivation of the human heart to accomplishment. If we knew that, we could evaluate ourselves on that basis. What is Right and what is Wrong? Knowing that, I can aspire for the Right. Western psychology will celebrate the author of that discovery. Desire, greed, ambition are human motives, but they are to be avoided. Bhakti, aspiration, service are good and we can assume that. It is for us to choose. We know the external compulsion. We know the inner urges. They are our choice. Beyond the external pressure and the inner, often undesirable motive, the question is whether there is a true HUMAN motivation. If so, is it permissible?

Ambitious men are successful when it is accompanied by capacity for accomplishment. They taunt others with incapacity. Good souls decry them as ambitious and sinful. Incapacity has the resourcefulness to take cover under piety and aspiration for inaction. Selfishness, social complexes vigorously act, often virulently. They are rewarded with success. Bill Gates and all the millionaires he has created are boyish. In the earlier centuries, Europeans found the Americans childish. Now boyishness seems to be the hallmark of the American accomplishment. Surely boyish nature is dynamic. The whole world admires America. Though the civilised parts also do it, they are surreptitiously shy about it. Spiritual perfection has its own injunction that the spiritual aspirant should not seek even spiritual gains. What then is the desirable guideline? Success, as with other things, is neutral. It is Man who gives it a character. If success is neutral, is not failure too neutral? Yes. Man knows his own motivation. No one can deny it. Progress spiritual or material is desirable, as material progress is basically spiritual progress. Seeking for PROGRESS is right. With that motive, success and accomplishment are desirable. To be true to oneself is to be true to God, as man is God in his deepest inner spiritual perception.

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