Take up one idea.
Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea.
Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone.
This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced.
~ Swami Vivekananda
Acharya Prashant(AP): Wonderful!
It’s just that not every idea will be able to fulfill these conditions.
The idea must have some worth, the idea must have some weight, the idea must have some gravity. Otherwise, you will not be able to make the idea your life. Otherwise, you will not be able to live, eat, breathe, sleep by that idea.
Mark the words, “Take up one idea.”
That one idea has to be about – ‘The One’.
It has to be an idea, that is arising from ‘The One’.
Every other idea would fail these conditions. Have you not had ideas aplenty, already? Have those ideas really served you well? Have those ideas survived? Have you ever been deficient in ideas?
In fact, you have far too many ideas for your comfort. So, you must be very clear about the quality of the idea that Vivekananda is referring to. Don’t be deceived. Vivekanand is not saying, “Take up some random idea, and give your life to it.” Not that it is bad; it is impossible. Because, you will not be able to give your life to any random idea.
Sooner than later that idea will wither down. Sooner than later, you will become bored of that idea. Sooner than later, some other idea will come to substitute that idea. As happens with us.
You have an idea to go to Nainital. Next day you have an idea to go to Ooty. What happened to Nainital? Nainital had no immensity. That idea was not arising from your heart, that was just a passing wave. It went away. It disappeared. Now, Ooty has come. Do you think Ooty is going to survive?
You have an idea – ‘Let me start a business in real estate’. Next day you receive some other news; the first idea is gone. Finished! Vivekananda is saying, “Live by that idea. And die by that idea.” That idea, therefore, must have some timelessness. That idea, therefore, must be irreplaceable by any other idea. Hence, it cannot be an idea about the so-called little things of the world.
This idea has to be an idea of the Immense.
And you cannot really have an ‘idea’ of the Immense.
This idea is something arising from the Immense.
You must, of course, give yourself a goal, but that goal has to be so total, that it totally possesses you; t consumes you. If your goal is smaller than yourself, then very soon you will find that you are on top of your goal, in the sense that you are the master of your goal even without achieving it. And hence, you substitute your goal.
Don’t we do that often?
AP: You set up a goal, and because the goal is ‘your’ goal, you feel that you are the controller of the goal; you have decided the goal. And if you have decided the goal, you have the power to …..
Listeners: Give up the goal.
Let the goal decide you.
Let the goal be on top of you.
Let the goal own you fully.
That is possible, only when the goal is – God.
That is possible, only when the goal is Totality itself.
Then, you will not be moving towards the goal, the goal would be drawing you in. Then there is no question of boredom, then there is no question of shortage of energy. Because now the energy would be supplied by the goal itself.
Now there is also no question of confusion, because you are now a slave to the goal. Let the goal clear the confusion. You are just allowing yourself to be moved. You are not really moving, you are not the ‘doer’. The ‘doer’ is the goal itself.
As long as the goal is not tremendously big, life has no Real purpose.
If your goals are small, they are no goals.
You will be frustrated if you do not achieve them.
And you will be doubly frustrated if you achieve them.
Having achieved them, you will find that the next goal is waiting for you. And that is deep frustration. You will feel as if all your investment in reaching up to the first goal, has totally gone down the drain.
Give yourself a goal that is – ‘the Final One’.
Give yourself a goal, after which no more goals will be needed.
Give yourself a goal, after which the goal-setter himself would be no more.
That goal can only be of – your total annihilation.
“Let me disappear. Let me surrender myself to something so worthy that it deserves my total sacrifice.” Unless your goal is that magnificent, that worthy, that tremendous, you will be just frustrated.
Normally when you have goals, you go to the goal to gain something, you go to the goal to succeed.
The mark of the ‘Real Goal’ is – when you reach there, you will not be gaining something.
You will just be losing.
And you know that the movement to that Goal is a movement to a loss. So you are being made an idiot, and yet you move to the Goal. That goal has to be so enchanting, so enamoring.
Unless you are completely owned, enamored, you will not allow yourself to be looted, and destroyed.
The ‘Real Goal’ dissolves you along the journey.
And you know that you are being dissolved.
You know that you are paying a price every step you take.
Why will you pay a price? That goal has to be extremely attractive. Know whether or not your goal is worthy, by this test alone. Do you expect to gain something on reaching that goal? Then that goal is worthless. Do you know that you are only losing, and losing, and losing as you are proceeding towards the goal? Then that goal is worthy.
If your goal gives you something, dump that goal. Real success then is, your total failure. You have totally failed in preserving yourself. You wanted to preserve yourself, and you totally failed – that is ‘Real Success’.
Only a ‘Real Goal’ can give you ‘real success’. False goals will give you a false failure; and worse still, false successes. False successes are worse than false failures.
You are not in this world to beef yourself up, accumulate, fatten, and then die an obese man. You are here to burn yourself out. And you must burn yourself doubly fast. The image that I love is – that of a candle, burning from both ends.
Matter turning into light – sublimation.
That is the purpose of life – to burn fast.
Turn into light, and disappear.
Don’t carry a lot of wax, a lot of fat, a lot of material.
Burn it fast! Burn it fast!
You were born with a lot.
You were born with a lot of clothes. Every child is born from the mother’s womb wearing just too many clothes. The purpose of life is to die naked. Keep on peeling-off the clothes, one after one, layer after layer.
Such a Goal must be there – a Goal that denudes you.
A lot of it, I know, sounds like plenty of madness!
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Acharya Prashant is an emerging champion of socio-spiritual awakening in the world today. An alumnus of IIT-Delhi and IIM-Ahmedabad, and a former Civil Services officer, Acharya Prashant is an acclaimed Speaker, Vedanta Teacher and author of over 50 books. Apart from that he wears various hats: a veganism promoter, an environmental activist, a science activist, a campaigner against superstition, and a champion of essential human freedom. Know More