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Fame, Fortune, and Ambition
What Is the Real Meaning of Success?
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2010 OSHO International
All rights reserved.
Success Is in the Eye of the Beholder
People go on postponing everything that is meaningful. Tomorrow they will laugh; today, money has to be gathered ... more money, more power, more things, more gadgets. Tomorrow they will love; today there is no time. But tomorrow never comes, and one day they find themselves burdened with all kinds of gadgets, burdened with money. They have come to the top of the ladder, and there is nowhere to go except to jump in a lake.
But they cannot even say to other people, "Don't bother to come here; there is nothing," because that will make them look stupid.
I have always dreamt of becoming world famous, rich, and successful. Can you say something that will help me in the fulfillment of my desire?
No, sir, not at all — never, because your desire is suicidal. I cannot help you to commit suicide. I can help you to grow and be, but I cannot help you to commit suicide, I cannot help you to destroy yourself for nothing.
Ambition is poison. If you want to be a better musician, I can help you, but don't think in terms of becoming world famous. If you want to be a better poet, I can help you, but don't think in terms of Nobel Prizes. If you want to be a good painter, I can help you — I help creativity. But creativity has nothing to do with name and fame, success and money.
And I am not saying that if they come, then you have to renounce them. If they come, it is okay, enjoy them. But don't let them become your motivation, because when a person is trying to be successful, how can he really be a poet? His energy is political, how can he be poetic? If a person is trying to be rich, how can he be a real painter? His whole energy is concerned with being rich. A painter needs his whole energy in the painting, and the painting is here now. And richness may come somewhere in the future — may come, may not come. There is no necessity; it is all accidental — success is accidental, fame is accidental.
But bliss is not accidental. I can help you to be blissful; you can paint and be blissful. Whether the painting becomes famous or not, whether you become a Picasso or not is not the point at all, but I can help you to paint in such a way that while you are painting, even Picasso may feel jealous of you. You can be utterly lost in your painting, and that is the real joy. Those are the moments of love and meditation; those are the moments that are divine. A divine moment is one in which you are utterly lost — when your boundaries disappear, when for a moment you are not and godliness is.
But I cannot help you to be successful. I am not against success, let me remind you again, I am not saying don't be successful. I have nothing against it; it is perfectly good. What I am saying is don't be motivated by it, otherwise, you will miss painting, you will miss poetry, you will miss the song that you are singing right now; and when the success comes, you will have only empty hands because nobody can be fulfilled by success. Success cannot nourish you; it has no nutrients in it — success is just hot air.
Just the other night, I was reading a book on Somerset Maugham, Conversations with Willie. The book is written by Somerset Maugham's nephew, Robin Maugham. Now, Somerset Maugham was one of the most famous, successful, rich persons of his age, but the memoirs are revealing. Robin Maugham writes about his famous and successful uncle, Somerset Maugham:
He was certainly the most famous author alive. And the saddest ... "You know," he said to me, "I shall be dead very soon, and I don't like the idea of it at all ..." and this statement was made when he was ninety-one. "I am a very old party," he said. "But that does not make it any easier for me."
Maugham was rich, world famous, and all that, and at the age of ninety-one, he was still making a fortune, even though he had not written a single word for ages. The royalties from his books still flowed in from all over the world, and so did the fan letters. The nephew goes on to write:
"What is the happiest memory of your life?" I asked him. He said, "I can't think of a single moment." I looked around the drawing-room and its immensely valuable furniture and pictures and art objects that his success had enabled him to acquire. His villa itself and the wonderful garden — a fabulous setting on the edge of the Mediterranean — were worth six hundred thousand pounds. He had eleven personal servants, but he was not happy.
... "You know, when I die," he said, "they will take it all away from me — every tree, the whole house, and every stick of furniture. I shall not even be able to take a single table with me."
And he was very sad, and he was trembling.
For a while he was silent ... and then he said, "I have been a failure the whole way through my life. I wish I had never written a single word. What has it brought to me? My whole life has been a failure, and now it is too late to change." And tears came into his eyes.
What can success bring to you? Now, this man, Somerset Maugham, lived in vain. He lived long — ninety-one years — he could have been a very contented man, fulfilled. But if success can give it, only then; if riches can give it, only then; if a big villa and servants can give it, only then.
In the ultimate analysis of life, name and fame are just irrelevant. All that matters in the final reckoning is how you lived each moment of your life. Was it a joy, was it a celebration? In small things, were you happy? Taking a bath, sipping tea, cleaning the floor, roaming around the garden, planting trees, talking to a friend, or sitting silently with your beloved, or looking at the moon, or just listening to the birds — were you happy in all these moments? Was each moment a transformed moment of luminous happiness, was it radiant with joy? That's what matters.
You ask me whether I can help you in the fulfillment of your desire. No, not at all, because that desire is your enemy; it will destroy you. And one day, you will weep in frustration, and then you will say, "And now it is too late to change. It is too late."
Right now it is not too late; something can be done: you can change your life totally from the very roots. I can help you go through an alchemical change, but I cannot guarantee anything in the worldly sense. I guarantee every success in the inner world; I can make you rich, as rich as any Buddha — and only Buddhas are rich. The people who have only worldly things around them are not really rich; they are poor people, befooling themselves and others that they are rich. Deep down is the beggar. They are not the real emperors.
Buddha came to a city, and the king was a little hesitant to go and receive him. His own prime minister said, "If you don't go and receive him, then take my resignation, then I cannot serve you anymore." The king said, "But why?" — and this prime minister was indispensable, without him the king would have been lost, he was the real key to his power. He said, "But why? Why do you insist? Why should I go to receive a beggar?" And the prime minister, who was an old man, said, "You are the beggar and he is the emperor, that's why. You go to receive him; otherwise, you are not worth serving."
The king had to go. Reluctantly, he went. But when he had seen Buddha, he went back, touched the feet of the old man, his prime minister, and he said, "You were right: He is the king; I am a beggar."
Life is strange. Here sometimes kings are beggars and beggars are kings. Don't be deceived by the appearance. Look in. The heart is rich when it throbs with joy; the heart is rich when it falls in harmony with Tao, with nature, with the ultimate law of life. The heart is rich when you fall in harmony with the whole; that is the only richness there is. Otherwise, one day you will weep and you will say, "It is too late. ..."
I cannot help you destroy your life. I am here to enhance your life. I am here to give you life abundant.
Sometimes I have a feeling that now I am ripe for the world, that now I can go and do things, like, "What a woman has to do, a woman has to do." To go out into the big, wide world, make lots of money, impress everybody, and go down in history.
I have spent a lot of time in the community of meditators around you, and I have loved it. But now that I am closer than ever to understanding what meditation really is, all these fantasies of fame and fortune emerge.
Why can I not just sit down, be at peace with the here and now, and soak up the love that showers upon me every day? Am I really so blind?
I don't want to hurt your feelings, but the truth is, you are still blind. There are many kinds of people who have come to me. Most of them are accidental; they did not come with a definite vision of what they were coming here for, and when they came, they got involved in meditations, they got involved with my presence, with the love that exists around me. They stayed, but deep in their unconscious, their old desires were still alive. So on the surface, they were feeling good — but the surface is thin. Any small incident can open up the Pandora's box, and all the desires they were thinking had gone are still there, more forceful than ever before. That's what is happening to you.
You say, "Sometimes I have a feeling that now I am ripe for the world." Please don't deceive yourself. The day you are ripe for the world, I will tell you. You cannot have a certificate yet; you are not ripe for the world!
But this is how mind is cunning. The mind wants to go into the world not because you are ripe, but because all those repressed feelings want their fulfillment: "Now I can go and do things." And what are the things? "What a woman has to do, a woman has to do."
And very strange things a woman has to do. "To go out into the big, wide world, make lots of money, impress everybody, and go down in history."
The end is not very interesting — go down in history, or go down the drain? Going down in history means going to your graveyard. History is only a chronicle of those who are dead. Strange idea you have ... "What a woman has to do, a woman has to do." I have never thought about it. Whatever a woman has to do, she can do here. Why go into the wide world?
"Make lots of money." What will you do with the money? Create a charitable trust? You cannot eat the money, and you cannot live by money alone — and not just money to survive but lots of money. Have you ever thought about what you mean by "lots of money"? Is there a limit to it? Because "lots of money" can mean anything. And how are you going to earn lots of money? Just by doing "what a woman has to do"?
Don't be stupid. There are many stupid women outside, and they are doing their jobs, earning lots of money, and getting ready to go down in history. A strange desire in you ... You will go to the grave; only your name may be in history. But that, too, is a very difficult thing. How many women have gone down in history, and how many women have lived on this planet? And the women who have gone down in history are not worth imitating.
For example, Cleopatra — she went down in history because she was one of the most beautiful women, and she sold her body to any conqueror who came to take over Egypt — Caesar or Anthony or anybody else. Her only defense was to sell her body. She must have been the greatest prostitute of the world. Do you think she blossomed, came to her individuality? She was simply a football tossed back and forth between the generals. One general would come and she would offer her body, and another general would come and she was ready to offer her body to him. Certainly she remained the empress of Egypt, with lots of money, and did everything that "a woman has to do."
But these kinds of ugly creatures are not to be imitated. Only her physical body was beautiful, but her spirit must have been mean, utterly mean. In love, you can give everything — your body, your mind, your soul — and it is a great experience. But for money or for power, selling your body is the meanest thing in the world.
And what will you gain by impressing everybody? Here, I could suggest to everybody, "Be impressed by this woman," and they all will enjoy the game and be impressed by you. Everybody will come to you and will say, "You are really great! Cleopatra was nothing."
Outside in society, how are you going to impress people? What genius have you to impress the world? Poetry, sculpture, painting ... and all those fields are so competitive. Here things are very simple. You just stand up and tell people, "A great desire to impress you all has arisen in me. Please be kind enough to be impressed" — that's all! Everybody will be impressed! And you don't have to do anything that "a woman has to do."
You say, "All these fantasies of fame and fortune are emerging. Why can I not just sit down, be at peace with the here and now, and soak up the love that showers upon me every day? Am I really so blind?"
Your blindness consists of your repressed desires. You have not cleaned your heart. You have come here and you have put a layer around yourself, but underneath the layer are all the scorpions and snakes, and all the spiders and cockroaches. The first thing for every meditator is to clean all these things, and with a clean ground start growing roses; otherwise, one day or other, these scorpions and these snakes and these cockroaches are going to assert themselves, and they will destroy your whole beautiful garden of roses. Still, nothing is lost — start cleaning.
A meditator is neither a man nor a woman, because meditation has nothing to do with your body; neither does it have anything to do with your mind. In meditation, you are simply and purely consciousness, and consciousness is neither male nor female.
The moment you understand your consciousness, all desires for money, fame, power, impressing people, and going down the drain into history simply disappear.
You have not cleaned the weeds from the ground and started growing roses. Now those weeds are hiding your roses; those weeds have grown up. You were watering the roses, but the weeds were exploiting all that watering, all that manure, all that care. And remember that weeds are far stronger than beautiful roses. They will slowly cripple your roses, destroy your roses, and the whole garden will be full of dead roses and dancing, wild weeds. Every gardener understands that first the ground has to be cleaned, all old roots have to be removed. All the old grass, all the weeds, have to be removed from the very roots so they can't come back again. Only then can delicate flowers be grown.
Meditation is the most delicate flower in existence. You started growing it without bothering about all the rats and cockroaches and scorpions. They remained there, and now they are raising their heads in protest. They are all political beings — and very strong fellows!
Scientists say that throughout the whole of history, wherever man has been, there have been cockroaches. Or vice versa — wherever there are cockroaches, you can infer that nearby there must be human beings. Cockroaches are in such a deep love with human beings; there seems to be no way to get rid of them. I have heard that even on the rocket that went to the moon, the astronauts suddenly found cockroaches. And every care was taken, but somehow cockroaches made their way and went with the people to the moon.
Still, it is not too late. Start cleaning your ground. And you have every capacity, every capability, and you have had experiences of beautiful silences of the heart. You have been joyous, in spite of this underlying conspiracy. And this underlying conspiracy of your mind is now convincing you that you are ripe: Now there is no need to be worried about the world, you can go into the world. For what? A person who is ripe in meditation cannot even think of having lots of money, going down in history, and "What a woman has to do, a woman has to do." This is a strange idea. From where did you get it? Seems to be your own special contribution.
Now everybody has heard about you, and I hope they will be impressed with you! They will enjoy; you will enjoy. There is no harm, so everybody should just find this person who has asked the question — bow down and tell her, wherever you see her, "I am so impressed. My God, why do people talk about Cleopatra when you are here?"
Why go down in history? Just go around the community here!
It was the late-night news broadcast on CBS, at the height of the hostage situation in Iran. The newscaster announced, "And here is the latest news flash. There is some good news and some bad news. First the good news: Raquel Welch has offered to give herself in exchange for the hostages and the Ayatollah Khomeini has accepted. Now the bad news: Teddy Kennedy is driving her to the airport."
Avoid these Ayatollah Khomeinis and Teddy Kennedys. All your desires can be fulfilled by the people here. "What a woman has to do, a woman has to do" — what is that? Why not do it here? If you want to impress people, impress — the people around me are compassionate enough. Even if you are not beautiful, they will say you are, it is just that you have a unique quality of beauty.
Excerpted from Fame, Fortune, and Ambition by Osho. Copyright © 2010 OSHO International. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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