Blessed with failure
It has been said in spiritual traditions that success is often a harder test to pass than failure. Truly, if we compare the effect that the two have upon us we can see why it is so.
Success can make one dizzy, haughty and even arrogant. Men drunk with success often forget the great Power working from behind that has pushed them to victory. They begin to believe and sometimes even delude themselves that they are someone special and extraordinary. Very soon their confidence passes into an overconfidence that loses contact with earthly realities. Flying upon the wings of vanity they presume, like Icarus & Sampati (mythical characters who burned their wings while flying too close to the sun), that they can touch the sun with their beaks. Success is indeed a heady wine that one enjoys in the beginning but ends up by being swallowed by it.
Failure has another effect, if one can endure and bear and go through it. While success hypnotizes you and gets you stuck to one option, failure dehypnotizes and unstucks us. It forces you to humility and makes you aware of the realistic limits, so that you may work steadily and patiently to exceed them. Success creates the illusion of power and control except in exceptional cases and even there one can easily fall into trap of confusing a limited and ignorant power for a genuine and supreme one. Failure strips us of all shows and shams, those facades and images that men hang on their outsides to deceive themselves and the world. It teaches us how to distinguish the real from the artificial, the genuine from the imitation by robbing of the sheen and shine and the glitter and glamour that falsehood uses sometimes as a cover and a cloak to hide its ugliness. Failure bares us all, so that we can confront us in our utter nakedness and walk, even if slowly, in the light of truth. Indeed failure has a much greater potential than success to bring us closer to truth… and open new doors for us.
Indeed when all outer doors close upon us one by one, we have this one rare chance to open the inner door and find ‘the One’ who never fails us; ‘the One’ who is the source of all security, satisfaction, strength; ‘the One’ whose touch upon our lives brings such a peace and joy that no outer success can ever bring. Success often depletes us by expending our energies over perishable goods and toys that break and by crowding our life with flowers that are scentless. Failure increases us by teaching perseverance and endurance and helping us discover our own inner strength. It allows us the possibility of new perspectives, and invites us to fresh goals, different aims; alternate life-views that are more complete an enduring. Indeed he is most unlucky who has never known failure for such a one has never known God and His Grace. And fortunate is he who has weathered the storms of failure that toss against his boat. He has seen through the mask of night and when the storm and the dust settles he is ready to receive wider horizons & the light of wisdom. Success creates a zone of artificial light within the dark night. Failure ventures into the heart of night and pucks out of its folds of secrecy the jewels that hide within the darkness’ caves. Indeed blessed is misfortune for through it one can see the face of God.
This does not mean that we should seek for failure. We should seek neither for failure nor for success for they are two sides of the same coin. As we have seen every success carries in itself the seed of failure and every failure hides within its crust the fruit of success. We should seek neither but simply do the deed that God has put into our hearts, to fulfill the purpose for which we are born, to be in tune with the ‘Will’ that moves the world. Or at least be true to our own real nature, the innate turn and temperament that is gifted to us by Nature, inbuilt and ingrained within us as the Swabhava and Swadharma. And this indeed is true success, the sign of a life well-lived, a life worthy of man. To go ahead and do what we must and are meant for without caring for success and failure, victory or defeat, the jeers and cheers of the crowd, the praise and insults heaped by demons or the gods. Better it is to fail and fall fulfilling one's true calling rather than succeed while following what may come natural to another but is alien to our own deepest self.