The best is not as important as the best for you
Suppose someone places a persimmon in competition with an apple and tries to make it the best apple. Not only will they fail, but also they will miss the persimmon’s distinctive taste and nutrition.
We live in an ultra-competitive culture wherein we are pressurized to be the best. And the best is defined not according to individual natures but according to external definitions of success. Such definitions often deem wealth, power and prestige the markers of success, labeling those without these markers as failures.
When we buy into these definitions of success, we bind ourselves to vocations that are alien to our innate talents and interests. So, we remain dissatisfied – not just when we don’t succeed, but even when we succeed. Why? Because we find ourselves caught in incompatible vocations, unable to make our own distinctive contributions.
Gita wisdom explains that humans, based on their individual potentials, can be divided into four broad categories: intellectuals, administrators, business people and general assistants. What is best for these different classes will be different. For example, if the driving definition of success for intellectuals is money – not intellectual fulfillment – they will end up compromising their intellectual integrity. Nowadays, industry’s funding of the academia often prevents scholars from being forthright, especially when their reports hurt industry’s vested interests. Consequently, many surveys reflect less the finding of the researchers and more the funding of their industrial patrons.
Pertinently, the Bhagavad-gita (03.35) cautions us against indiscriminately adopting alien definitions of success by stressing that living according to our nature is far better than living according to someone else’s nature. Rather than slaving to conform to some external definition of success, we can look within, understand our own talents and interests, and choose that which is the best for us.
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