Are You Taking An Exam?
Sometimes the most unlikely students do well, while others perform below expectation. Is there a component other than hard work and study that makes for success? Similarly, in sport, top players sometimes fail while novices win. What is the reason for this? Researchers have now understood the major role played by the mind, in success. In a world obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the importance of the mind, which is subtle and difficult to evaluate.
The Bhagwad Gita gives valuable insights into the mind and its role in success. The Gita, verse 2:48, says, ‘Samatvam yoga ucyate — equanimity of mind is success’; verse 2:50 says, ‘Yogah karmasu kaushalam — proficiency of action makes for success’. Together, they present the formula for success. When the mind is calm, intellect is clear, and the action is brilliant. However, well prepared you may be, if the mind is disturbed, thinking gets confused and you are not able to access your own knowledge. The mind blanks out. Action fails. Hence, a calm mind is the essential tool for success.
Yet, we are all in varying degrees of mental agitation.
What disturbs the mind? Unfulfilled desire. Everyone has desire. The difference is — is your desire under control of the intellect? Or has the mind revved up desire into a force that wreaks havoc within you?
Concentration is a vital link in success. A batsman may play brilliantly till he reaches the score of 90. At 90, his mind shifts from the present to worry over past failures and anxiety for the hundred. He gets out. Hence the term ‘nervous nineties’.
Similarly, a tennis player at the Wimbledon final may be at his peak. But in the crucial tiebreak, his concentration slips. He makes crucial errors and loses. So also, a student may be fully prepared for the exam. But if she gets overwhelmed with anxiety, she makes simple errors and fails. So study to the best of your ability, but on the final day, just before the exam, focus on keeping the mind calm. Do not think of the past or future. Just enjoy the present. And you will succeed.
This brings us to the two distinct entities in you. The mind is a flow of thoughts. It is the home of feelings, emotions, impulses, and likes and dislikes. It opts for instant pleasure. The mind is not capable of figuring out what is in your interest and what is not. The intellect is the domain of reason, discrimination, logic and analysis. It can control the whims and fancies of the mind and direct you to success and happiness. It goes by deferred gratification. The mind distracts you. The intellect keeps you focussed. When the intellect is strong and alert, the mind is able to concentrate and you emerge a winner.
However, there is no awareness of the crucial role played by the intellect and nobody knows how to strengthen it. The result is: lapses in concentration and failure. The Gita emphasises the importance of the intellect and declares:‘ Buddhinashat pranashyati — when the intellect is lost, you get destroyed.’
Excellence is inherent in every human being. All you have to do is get yourself out of the way — your desires, selfishness, ego and petty-mindedness. You cannot achieve greatness with a small mind. Everyone is obsessed with just ‘I,me,myself’. This limits and incapacitates you. Expand your mind.
Worldwide, people are focussed only on pay cheque, profit, and personal gain. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, concentration camp survivor , says, “Prosperity is the unintended side effect of your dedication to a cause greater than yourself.” In the Gita, verse 3:10, Krishna says,‘ Having created the human being along with yajna, sacrifice, the Creator said, “with this may you prosper”. Let this be the Kamadhenu of all your desires.’
We are gifted with yajna, the ability to sacrifice, which is denied to all other creatures. This is the key to success and happiness. It fulfils all your desires. Kamadhenu is a mythological, heavenly cow that grants all your desired objects. Espouse a higher cause.
A lofty ideal energises and inspires you. It makes you creative and enables you to rise above your limitations. An ordinary Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi became the extraordinary Mahatma when he decided to work for the people and the nation. So, can you grow into a towering personality if you fix a higher ideal.
Teamwork is a necessary ingredient of success. You cannot achieve anything by yourself, however talented you may be. Do not look upon your colleagues as competitors and opponents. They are partners and collaborators. When you feel one with them, you see the best in them. Everyone contributes their best and they achieve success. When you feel different from others, you waste valuable resources in fighting imaginary enemies!
The larger the group of people you feel one with, the greater is your happiness. When you feel one with the country, when any Indian excels, you celebrate as if the achievement was yours. Your happiness multiplies 1.3 billion times! If you are totally selfish, you can be happy only when good things happen to you.
Learn the art of celebrating others’ victories as your own. In the end, everything in the world is temporary, passing, ephemeral. The Gita, chapter 5, says, ‘The wise do not revel in “passing joys”. They pursue the permanent.’
There was a kingdom in which a king would be appointed every five years and, after his term, be ferried across a river to be devoured by animals. One king was different from the others. While he enjoyed his temporary monarchy, he made sure he transferred his wealth and assets across the river to build a new city where he would be lifetime king.
Enjoy the world and all it has to offer. But remember to transfer your assets to the realm beyond, so you can be permanent king.