External success may be a zero-sum game, but internal success isn’t
External success requires us to achieve worldly things such as positions and possessions that are considered markers of success. But such success markers are limited. So, seeking them propels us into a fierce competition, wherein one person’s success necessitates another person’s failure. If one student comes first in a class, other students can’t. Indeed, worldly success is frequently a zero-sum game.
Spirituality offers us an alternative vision of success that is not zero-sum: internal success. Such success depends on our consciousness, more specifically on how our consciousness is spiritually absorbed in the source of all happiness, the Absolute Truth, Krishna.
Ultimately, we all want to love and be loved. We crave and slave for external things because we believe that those things will make us more lovable in people’s eyes. But the people thus attracted don’t love us; they love those things.
To fulfill our longing for love, we need to direct our love towards the one person who loves us for who we are, not for what we have. That person is Krishna. When we learn to love Krishna by practicing bhakti-yoga, we move closer to him, step-by-step. As our devotion to him deepens, we become increasingly, ecstatically absorbed in him. When such absorption becomes steady and strong, we become perennially blissful – that is life’s most fulfilling success.
To be thus internally successful, we don’t need to give up external things. But we do need to give up the notion that those things determine our success. The Bhagavad-gita (05.21) states that those who become detached from worldly things and focus on their inner core relish unlimited happiness.
As Krishna is infinite, he can be fully available to all of us. So, when we redefine success as blissful absorption in him, we all can be spiritually successful.
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