The root of failure, or Why isn’t it working for me?
Why do things work out well for one person and not another? Sometimes recurrently? What is that about? Is it written in the stars or the laws of nature?
People who have managed to make friends with life will tell you without hesitation that it’s really very simple: one persons acts, the other does not; one finds a rhythm, the other gets overwhelmed. But if you look more closely you will find that this is just the tip of the iceberg. What is more, this is obvious to most people from the very beginning of their journey, including those who do not succeed, and yet the situation doesn’t change. What is at the root of this phenomenon?
There is an even more curious situation, when both types of people are engaged in action, but yet again it works out well for one and not the other. Let us explore the essence of this question.
We can’t say that the fault lies in the recipe, that one person is doing it correctly, and the other is not. We live in enchanting times, when well explained instructions can be found for practically any activity you can imagine. Ask any question and you can find a plethora of specific, step-by-step answers from many different sources: Google, Bing , YouTube are all incredibly helpful, not to mention the more traditional forms of education, advice from friends and observation of the world. So why are so many people incapable of figuring out the most banal questions necessary to get their outer life into order: creating meaningful work; communicating with loved ones from the heart; establishing financial independence? And what is special about the people who manage to resolve these questions?
In the past I might have said that it is all about intention, i.e. profound desire without greed or expectation, limited only by your willingness to accept new situations in your life.
But today I have found a more precise and succinct definition, which is the key to genuine change in any area:
Genuine spiritual effort
Each of these three word is a profound well of universal logic:
Genuine, deep-seated, authentic, vital, strong desire to change in some way that you have decided. Not for others to envy you, and not because you are envious of others. Not to stop feeling worthless, but to begin your ascent towards the light and draw strength from this world through an eternal process of development. Genuineness.
Spiritual understanding of the essence of change and realization of life goals, where the only path is one of contribution and impact. The essence of the return is spiritual, as is the application of our strength in obtaining it.
Effort is primary, because this is our contribution to the world, from which the return is created. Any attempt to manipulate the process will be counter-productive: first harvest the crop, then sort the wheat from the chaff. Though in reality, it is all wheat. Effort is the seed of change.
This is confirmed by one of my favourite authors Paramahansa Yogananda:
Genuine spiritual effort (regardless of inner conflict) creates positive spiritual vibrations
Inner conflict, with intensely opposing goals, doubts, fears, demotivating thoughts and destructive habits, cannot disturb you nor detract you from your path, if through everything, somewhere deep inside, you invest genuine spiritual effort into changing whatever it is you wish to change.
I approached my problems, which arose in many guises, practically blindly, not having the slightest idea of whether or not I could endure them, armed only with a very, very, very strong desire to change and having firmly decided that there was no turning back.
Now I know that my sword was called “genuine spiritual effort”, and it cuts through any darkness, including heartache. The determination to never back down under any circumstances has long been described as the axiom of spiritual physics and, in fact, it is the only method of development in the spirals of growth. When there is no such profound effort, and only superficial desires of “I want” and “give me”, a person remains in ignorance and can stay there their whole life.
The very fact of being born in a physical body is a sign that a person is in a spiritual ignorance.
We are all born unconscious, this is a rule of the game. And then our conscious ascent into the mysteries of existence begins, or it doesn’t – this is every individual’s free choice to make, as well as the turning point between childhood and adulthood: when one ceases searching, asking and demanding, and instead begins creating and contributing to everything they do with genuine spiritual effort.
How do you make things work for you?
1 The essential core is genuine spiritual effort
I have said it before and I will say it again: people who have made genuine changes in their lives and managed to attain difficult goals are not stronger, more intelligent or fearless than anybody else. The only thing different about them is the fact that they feared LACK OF CHANGE more than they feared change. Their situations troubled them so much that they overcame the fear that arises when anybody embarks on drastic change.
Most stories of how entrepreneurs and creators began their projects have more or less the starting point:
“I was so fed up”.
Their desire for financial and professional independence was so strong that they were prepared to work 12-hour days, and work over holidays and weekends for a couple of years to achieve their goal.
I began by feeling fed up with being unhappy. Really fed up. Of course, I had desires involving work as well. I was fed up with earning money for someone else (I always worked, directly or indirectly, in sales, contributing to the earnings of the company), but this didn’t bother me as much as my constant unhappiness. I had misery coming out of my ears, despite my attempts to keep it at bay with travelling, moving, changing jobs, and a series of romances.
My first decision was the intention to become happy. From there I began to untie the knots, came to the idea of creating myself anew as the only method of cleansing myself from ignorance, and of many other things, where my path was illuminated and continues to be illuminated by efforts to move forward, to become the person I want to be.
2 Focused action
Spiritual effort differs from dreams and fantasies in that it transforms into action. Moreover, what is important is not simply action itself, but focused action – the ability to adjust the route as needed in order to stay on course.
Don’t know what to do? Find the answer. One recipe isn’t working? Find another. Find out what the ingredients are and try to make it for yourself. The general rule of recipes is that they rarely work first time around – they take practice. I get the feeling that sometimes a person needs to get burned a couple of times before they learn how to run things smoothly. Could this be a test of the authenticity of your spiritual efforts?
3 The ability to keep up a rhythm
The most important ability in any process is to just “keep going”, because this is the only language nature understands. A tree never stops growing, so why do people think they can?
Once a heavy smoker for 30 years, who also happens to be my mother, told me how she learned to keep her momentum when giving up cigarettes.
She decided to stop smoking, lasted one day and then went to the shop for cigarettes the next day, as happens to so many of us. When she told the shopkeeper, he cut her off:
“I’m not selling them to you. You managed to quit for one day, that means you can do it for another day.”
And this became the basis of her progress on her path towards quitting her vile habit. Not denial forever, but holding out for one day: just today. Then doing the same the next day, and paying constant attention to the benefits you feel after not smoking for three days, four days etc. One day at a time, step by step, until after 30 days you don’t even think about smoking.
When you start something, don’t aim for “forever” or “all or nothing”, don’t make bold claims, don’t throw yourself into rapid changes. Try to do it just for today. And then again every day, because in reality there is nothing else; we always wake up into today. This is the fastest route to making your dreams a reality.
Changes will come!