- An event that accomplishes its intended purpose
- An attainment that is successful
- A state of prosperity or fame
- A person with a record of successes
Humans have always been successful, haven’t they? If they hadn’t, you and I wouldn’t be able to have this discussion. From our earliest beginnings (apparently) in the trees in africa, through to standing on two feet for the first time, and eventually spreading north to europe, and east to asia; we have overcome great difficulties such as wars, famines and disease, and we are still here.
Other species have fallen by the wayside. They have become extinct, never to reappear on this earth, but we keep going. In fact, we get more and more successful by the day. But could all this success have gone to our heads, could the most successful species on the planet finally cause its own demise? We shall see.
From an early age, it was drummed into me that success was all I should be striving for (after all, no one strives for failure). “Study and pass your exams, get a good job like your father, and you will be successful like him.” And successful he was. He managed to climb through the ranks of office paper pushers, to become a managing director, employing a couple of thousand people worldwide. He provided a nice house, plenty of money, and private education for me. As a role model for success, he was it.
“Work hard my boy and you too can have all this.”
Unfortunately, it didn’t impress me all that much. Why try to be successful when I already had it all!
My parents were most displeased with my attitude. They cajoled me, got me into private study lessons, arranged interviews, in fact they tried everything to help be become a successful person, because you see, that is what is important in life.
I never did become successful in the way my parents wanted, maybe because in my heart I knew they would leave me some money or a house; but deep down, I just couldn’t see why we all needed to be so “successful.” I didn’t want the adulation of others, or to have power over several thousand employees, and I certainly wasn’t interested in making millions of pounds. I just wanted to enjoy my life and have fun – something that was seen as frivolous by my parents.
So what is success? Biologically, success is ensuring the reproduction of the species. Physically, success is having enough to eat, having warm clothing, shelter, and a mate to reproduce with. That’s it. Nothing more. The rest is only psychological desire.
So why do I need to be more successful than this? People would say that without ambition, we would be no better than the animals, but given the state of our minds and the planet, I’d have to say that at the moment, we are in a lot worse shape than the animals.
Oh he’s very ambitious, he wants to get right to the top
Climbing, climbing, climbing, that’s all we ever do, isn’t it? We are always on our way to the top, we are never satisfied with what we have and what we are. In fact even when we get there, we just can’t stop climbing. When we eventually reach the social summit, and there is nowhere left to go, we invent new ways that not only put us even further above others, but make it harder for people to topple us off our “throne.”
This ambition engulfs us, and takes on a life of its own. We are so desperate to be successful, which in reality is having more than others (more status, more money, more possessions), that we will do almost anything to get there, even kill other human beings.
But none of this is personal they will tell you. It’s just business. The business of being so ambitious that you will climb and trample on anyone who gets in your way. They show no concern for anyone else, although if you questioned them about it, they would say that it blatantly isn’t true, and of course they care, but we can see the truth of it, you and I.
The ambitious and successful amongst you may have constructed some slick counter arguments just in case you are challenged on this.
“Listen, if people weren’t ambitious, and gave up wanting to be successful, do you think that people would have electricity in their homes by now, or be able to get fresh produce whenever they wanted? What about healthcare? If people weren’t successful do you think we would be able to vaccinate millions of people against potentially lethal diseases?”
But what I am talking about is not the need to cure people with disease, or supply them with electricity for cooking and heating (all of which is run by ambitious companies), I am talking about you, the individual, needing to be ambitious, to be successful in your life for personal gain. It is rare to find someone who does something out of unconditional love for everyone and everything on the planet.
Everyone has ambition, even the monk wants to be a successful meditator, only his ambition is to reach god, to find enlightenment. None of us are free from it. You see, it’s not solely about money or possessions but our need to climb, to get somewhere, to get more knowledge, to discover more things. We are all ambitious. Because our minds are wired that way.
Victory is mine!
I find it hard to talk about war being “successful,” but that is precisely what happens when one army overcomes another. They are the winner of the struggle. They have defeated their enemy – the evil one, and they can stand high on the hill, and declare “victory!” at which point everyone cheers.
After the second world war, the leaders of the western world declared victory over germany and japan, and, oh, how the crowds cheered, and waved as the troops passed through the streets. It was a very happy affair. The campaign had been successful.
But success is not something I would call the deaths of countless millions of people, even if it was for my “freedom.”
“You are ungrateful” I hear you cry. “My grandfather gave his life so you could be free.” But I am bound to the blood that was spilt for me. I am bound to the soldiers that tore apart flesh. Did they do it for me? No. They did it because our successful leaders did not want to be controlled by other successful leaders.
There is no right and wrong in war, all it does is create misery, and suffering for all involved. After all, you are only seen as the one in the “wrong” if you are on the losing side. “But we didn’t start it,” I hear some of you saying, “we were only doing it, to protect ourselves and to free the people who were under the rule of a tyrannical dictator.”
But the germans didn’t see it like that, they thought they were doing the right thing. It would have been hard for the leaders to get so many people to kill on their behalf if the people didn’t think they were in the right.
The only aim of each of the countries involved was to be successful, not to create a peaceful harmonious world where all of us live in balance with nature. You only have to look around you now to see that it changed nothing. Sure, we are not ruled by germans, russians, or japanese, but war still surrounds us. Misery still surrounds us. And that misery is caused by ambition, the need to be successful, whatever the costs.
Let’s go into this more deeply shall we?
My leaders tell me I am free, because they defeated an enemy on my behalf, but their definition of freedom is not mine. They tell me I am free to think and do what I like (as long as I conform to their laws).
When I don’t conform, I will soon find out that this freedom they are talking about is given, or loaned to me temporarily, and is not actually a human right. Do you understand?
The leaders want to be successful: they want to be the most successful leader on the planet, and they will stop at nothing to get what they want. Whether economic success, or military success, it doesn’t matter. I am a mere pawn in their ascent to become successful, and if I am killed on the way, whilst fighting for “freedom,” then so be it. What matters is victory; reaching the summit.
But if my success as a human being has been dependent on others being killed so I can live in a country free from tyranny and oppression, I don’t know if I want to be part of it. Tyranny and oppression are just the methods of ambition.
The freedom fighter
Imagine you live in a country that is controlled by a military junta or dictator. You are not allowed freedom of speech, you are brainwashed, and you must conform or go to jail, so you decide to free yourself and everyone else. How do you go about it?
Well, you have three methods available at your disposal – peaceful protest, civil disobedience, or fighting.
You have seen that civil disobedience has worked in other countries, but here in your country, the military are under orders to kill anyone who is disobedient, so you ask for help from another country to supply you with weapons. They also want rid of the leaders in your country, so they agree to help. You raise an army, and march on the capital.
For several years, there is terrible bloodshed. Women, children, and the old suffer most, and most of your troops are killed along the way. But you will not stop until the last man dies. You will get your freedom whatever it takes.
Eventually you get help from another country, which sends in troops. They kill the remaining “opposition” soldiers, or force them to surrender, and you arrest the leader (now ex-leader) of the country. Victory is yours! The people cheer! The troops pass through the streets on their tanks waving to the grateful people like celebrities, and you execute the ex-president for “crimes against humanity.” There is a democratic election and you are installed as the new president. You speak to your people on the day of your inauguration.
“My people, we have fought long and hard for this day. Many of you have been wounded or lost loved ones during the battle for our freedom. But our day has come. You are now free from the tyrannical and evil president who made you suffer so much (lots of cheering). He is dead, a new day has dawned, and you have freedom. We will rebuild this country and regain our status in the world. We shall become powerful and never again will we let those who seek to control us have their way. Our day has come…”
Blah, blah, blah. And so the cycle begins again.
You start your new job having climbed to the summit through the ambition to “free the people” and you are now on top. You have spent the last few years fighting your way to the top, killing and maiming, all in the name of freedom, but what makes you so different from the person you replaced? Oh, maybe because you added the word “freedom,” you think it sounds better; but you are both the same. You will do anything to achieve your ambition. Success is paramount. Just like the man before you.
What cost success?
Maybe this ambition (a strong drive for success) stems from the time when man was a hunter, when the need for survival was the only thing driving him, and success meant (a) getting enough food to eat, (b) defeating enemies and predators, and (c) staying alive long enough to pass his genes on.
Now, most of us have plenty to eat and with modern medicine, we all live much longer and so have plenty of time to procreate. There aren’t many enemies and no predators to speak of, but somehow this biological hard wiring is still with us, and it is causing immeasurable suffering on a global scale. The problem is, most people don’t even know they are suffering.
This ambition is causing Man to behave in ways which are not only not beneficial for himself, but for the rest of the planet as a whole.
Ambition is cutting down rainforests, breaking families apart, killing innocent people, digging up the planet, addicting people to everything, polluting the skies.
So whatever anyone tells you, you are all you need. Everything is already in you. You are already successful. Do you follow? Thanks to the biological drive to survive by your ancestors, here you are! You are a wonderful human being. Filled with love. Why do you need to be anything else? Do you need a title, which is meaningless, or a large office, or people bowing down to you, showing you tribute and respect to be more than you already are? Do you need to control people, to show you are more than you already are?
The more ambitious you are, the more you separate yourself from others, the more you are divided. You stand, not grounded, but as a precarious rock on top of the mountain that takes little to knock off. Remember, there are several billion people below you just waiting for the chance to take your place.
This ambition is just psychological longing to be more than it already is, but when look deep inside, you will see that being successful is just a man-made concept. You are already a wonderful human being. All this climbing, and then nothing. What’s the point of that?
bu=y alan macmillan orr
‘the natural mind – waking up’