Today we’re going to focus on two important traits of successful people: vigor and valor. These are more than just key traits of high achievers. These are royal qualities possessed by a person willing to serve the whole country and even the whole world. Vigor and valor characterize both a good leader and a man of faith, ready to fulfill his mission for the benefit of the whole universe. The one who has these characteristics is already successful. These personality traits — especially their auspicious combination — are exceptionally rare to be found within a person. However, it’s not enough to be a successful possessor of wonderful traits. One needs to know how to put them to good use.
In fact, acting vigorously is a sort of “resistance” to the laws of karma. Though, it must be noted that karma doesn’t set a goal of beating one to death. The purpose of karma is to transform a person, purify him of dirty desires and temper his heart. Fire can burn you up, but it also has a purifying power. Karma is like fire. So a wise person perceives it as merciful purification, rather than cruel punishment.
The sages disclose the first secret of karma: no matter what hardships by the twist of fate you are facing, intensive efforts always make you victorious. You needn’t lose heart at the first hint of trouble, just as there’s no need to get upset about stormy weather at sea. Prepare your ship for the voyage. Time will come, and the sea will allow you to subjugate it. ‘Get the things you may need ready before you may need them,’ people say.
It means that at a certain level of endeavors, the heart will get purified of dirt, and karma will let the desired goal come true. The only thing that matters is the goal itself. It must be spiritualized and sublime. Therefore, it is recommended that we have genuine fear of inaction. Inaction is really ought to be feared. There is nothing more dangerous than to have a lofty goal and do nothing. It’s as much as to be a firefighter, see the fire and simply stand by and watch how everything burns down. Or to be a lifeguard and watch someone drown without taking urgent measures. The one who has an aim is bound to act. It is his duty. If he neglects this opportunity, he loses himself. Life becomes devoid of meaning, and one has to be born again and again, to accomplish all his tasks. In fact, we were born again into this world because we were not sufficiently active to achieve lofty goals in our past life.
Sages explain that people in this day and age are too much proud of small occasional deeds they do for others. In point of fact, it’s nothing to be proud of, really. You did something ten years ago, so what of it? Occasional good deeds should be cause for shame, not pride. Only those who are blessed with the mood of constant activity can take pride in helpfulness. Those who actively continue to do good may rest assured things are going the right way. If I bought fine groceries, it doesn’t mean that I cooked a delicious meal. I only got the opportunity to cook it.
By turning the key just once, I may not open the door. In a similar way, I should turn the key to the door of life multiple times, until it becomes unlocked. These “turns” consist of pious actions for the benefit of God and His children. According to the scriptures, the mere desire to serve society and the Lord, without readiness to act vigorously and decisively a whole life long, can be compared to the weakling’s determination to use weapons. It’s most likely that he will hurt himself and cause bodily harm to others. Indolence is not just a problem. It’s a real danger… Just imagine an indolent driver, surgeon or a pilot…
It is a duty of every person to eliminate problems friends and family are facing. We should give support in every way possible to help them establish themselves in the successes and achievements. However, only those who are fond of work, and are able to abandon pleasures at the same time, can fulfill this obligation. It’s no easy matter, actually. It takes some doing. It’s not as simple as going to the movies or having tea together. We must really apply all our efforts for the sake of our close ones, so they could be safe and sound. Otherwise, karma of a person who abandoned his close ones to their fate will follow us.
It is said in the scriptures that the grave elder sister of the goddess of fortune lives side by side with an idle man, while the merciful Shri, the goddess of fortune Herself, resides in human efforts. The two always come together. Yes, Lakshmi and Alakshi are sisters and they love each other. When someone becomes indolent, Shri, the goddess of good fortune, leaves such a person, giving way to Alakshmi, the goddess of bad luck. Alakshi is the very same elder sister of Lakshmi people don’t like to talk about. However, the two siblings are inseparable. The sister bringing misfortune is symbolized by the owl sitting at Lakshmi’s feet.
The law of karma says we should never accuse anyone of not being gifted-minded. But if one is simply not eager to make full effort to get the knowledge essential for life – this is really reprehensible. One may not be naturally gifted or exceptionally smart. That doesn’t matter. Even without special skills or personality traits, it’s possible to achieve the goal of life. One should simply try hard, make active and continuous efforts to attain it. By contrast to this, modern psychologists recommend just thinking about your goal, hoping things will work themselves out. But can you imagine a wife who instead of making dinner says to her husband she’s been visualizing French fries in her mind?
Moreover, it is said in the scriptures: if bad luck doesn’t let one achieve the desired goal, an attempt will pay for itself. Honest and active effort in itself is rewarding. It elevates one a step higher the evolutionary stairway of life. It strengthens the character, gives active experience, provides perspectives for the future and shows the limits of possible efforts. So there are good grounds for saying: “It doesn’t hurt to try.” The one who makes a try doesn’t waste time for he endeavors to understand the system in which he wants to obtain the desired result. Thus, a beginner driver learns how to park properly. First he fails, but after trying a few times he understands the system and finally gets it right. It cannot be emphasized enough that one should simply continue trying.
Lastly, we may even face seemingly impossible tasks. Bold, well-thought-out efforts will enable to see how karma, fate itself steps back. By strengthening the character, active efforts contribute to the evolution of consciousness. It causes karma to change. Therefore, in the society it is customary to reprove a person if he doesn’t develop his skills in a systematic way, doesn’t work on himself or make any steps towards his goal of life. Weak will is a sinful character trait. It eventually prevents one from becoming wise and saintly.
And certainly, to be constantly active, one should exhibit the character trait of valor. An active personality can’t afford to break down under the burden of failure, defeat or hardships. Sages give the great formula for valor: laugh when you face misfortune. It will help you to gain victory over any misfortune or misery. Saints, missionaries and men of faith demonstrate this particular behavior. Being tossed around by the waves of fate, they meet misfortune with a smile. The higher the waves, the more they laugh. But this is not the laughter of a fool. This is the laughter of a fearless person who set his mind on the act of valor. Nothing can deter him from success. Challenges only instigate him and inspire even more decisive actions.
In December 1914 Thomas Edison’s laboratory was burned to ashes. The inventor was already 67 years old when this happened. The fire caused incredible damage. Its equivalent in today’s money would exceed 2 million euros. Comparatively, € 200 000 insurance payout he got was a pittance and could only cover a fraction of the damages.
But that was not the worst. Worse still, all the results of scientific works were destroyed by fire. Edison’s life work, his partly designed scientific inventions, recollections and notes – everything went up in flames. In as little as a couple of hours his life-work was burned to the ground!
Edison’s son searched everywhere for his father. He was anxious about how his father would live through this disaster. It turned out that Thomas Edison stood calmly nearby watching everything from the safe distance. He was absolutely calm and composed. He smiled as he looked at the ruins. He only thing he wanted was to see his wife.
When she came, he seriously told her, “Just look, we haven’t seen anything like that in our whole life! There’s value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Thank God, we can start anew.”
Sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. But it’s up to us to choose how to respond to them. It is we who choose our attitude to the life events.
As it is said in the scriptures, ill luck may come like a flash flood. But if one does some serious thinking, it will go away. Hence, when you feel like you have bad luck, it’s nothing but mental concoction. Mature thinking will enable one to rise above it and take one step further towards the intended goal. It should be well understood that one is born, properly speaking, to become target for bad luck. A wise person knows it and is not disturbed by the adversities. Hardships mostly affect the body, but the intelligence can be above them. Hardships are the natural part of life. They can’t stop a wise person. Yes, we wait for a while at red lights, but it doesn’t end our journey, does it? As soon as the traffic lights change to green, we go forward. When it’s raining heavily, people seek shelter from rain. But when the shower abates, they head towards their destinations even faster.
Hence, the following conclusion is given in the scriptures. Those can easily go through hardships who don’t let the thirst for pleasures grow in their soul and realize it is the human lot to meet with difficulties. Also, the way one will react in the time of trouble can be seen from one’s behavior during a lucky streak. This must be clearly understood. If one keeps cool head amid success, one is protected from grief during times of misfortune. Such a person will be able to resist hardships and even overcome them. He who keeps cool head during a spate of good luck is sure to find strength to live through hard times, as well.
And now, I’d like to tell you a parable of Tadao Yamaguchi that is popular among businessmen.
“Master,” asked the disciple, “what’s the role of luck and chance in success?”
“What do you mean by these terms?” preceptor bent his head interrogatively.
The disciple thought for a minute.
“It is by pure chance when I turn to a client who has just run out of goods that I’m selling. For some reason, his regular supplier can’t deliver them, so as a result, I get a new customer. And it is sheer luck if I go to a party, for example, and suddenly meet a person very important for my business. When it’s been a long time since I wanted to find some approach to him.”
“You might have noticed,” said the Master, “that those whom you consider lucky simply work more. They frequently turn to those whom they want to see as their customer. They often visit the places where they stand a good chance of meeting a right person.”
“So you want to say it’s only the matter of chance?” the disciple showed surprise.
“Not only,” frowned the Master. “First of all, this is hard work.”