By Suma Varughese February 2002 The secret of a successful life is to live each moment to the fullest—draining your cup to the lees—moving a step ahead each time towards spiritual success Perhaps one of the most important tasks before all of us is how to succeed in this great enterprise called life. How would God have liked us to live so that, when in the end we return to God, he (she, it—choose your pronoun—my Judeo-Christian background will out) may tell us: ‘Well-lived.’ Today, I believe that the successful life is one that takes as much as possible from each moment and gives as much to it; a life lived at the fullest pitch of one’s powers; a life that uses every moment to move a step ahead into growth. One wakes up of a morn and takes a deep breath. And in that breath one greets the day. That breath is also a bow to God, an acknowledgment of the gift of life and recognition of one’s body. As the long current of air goes deep within, it awakens and vitalizes us and puts us in touch with the present moment. Taking the first step of the day is likewise an experience to savor, as our feet touch the ground and our body begins to move. As to drinking that first cup of coffee or tea—what a deep, sensuous experience it can be when we put all of ourselves into it and draw as much as possible out of it. Lived at such a pitch, no moment in life is ever ordinary, ever trivial. Each is charged with its own rasa, its own flavor, which we draw within ourselves and assimilate. Even moments of physical and emotional pain have their beauty and poignancy when we give ourselves fully to it, experiencing the discomfort fully, watching its play within our system, and containing it within ourselves. An encounter with anyone or anything, even a bird or animal, is a celebration when we pour ourselves fully into it, directing our fullest attention and respect to the other and recognizing and appreciating their uniqueness completely. In that space, the other has complete freedom to be who they are and like a flower before the sun, they release their essence. Communication then becomes joyful, almost a dance as it were, fully satisfying and replenishing each. Imagine living that way. Imagine our most mundane exchanges in the local train and at work being charged with that intensity of life. Only then can we realize the potential of relationships. Far from being a source of conflict and tension, relationships will then be what they are meant to be—one of the greatest sources of joy and enrichment in our lives, a way to savor the other’s uniqueness and to grow from it. Work, when approached with total intensity, becomes almost a sacred enterprise. Whether we are rolling out a chapati, putting the baby to sleep, engaged in creating a work of art or signing a deal, we give our all to it. In such an atmosphere there is no space for indifference, sloppy work, or even thought. Everything save the work is siphoned out of our consciousness and a new kind of dance begins, a pas de deux in which we give of ourselves and the work gives of itself, and what emerges is a seamless piece of self-expression. A life lived like this is its own reward. That it will also be externally successful, who can doubt. But that will not be the point. The point will be the realization of our own potential, the heightened awareness gained, the richness of the experience itself and the precious insights into the nature of life that come our way. It will be the seamless integration of every moment within ourselves, so that our life, when we look back, is completely one, without contradictions or incompletions to mar its perfection. No messy relationships, no aspects of our lives or ourselves we have swept under the carpet, no failure we have not come to terms with. Such a definition of success sweeps away all external tags such as wealth, status or title. By this definition, the old gardener, weeding at his lawn patch with patience and dedication, may be far more successful than the owner of the mansion, be he the maharaja himself. This kind of success is open to no external evaluation. Only the individual and God will know; though the rest of us, hammering and struggling at life, will always suspect that they know something we don’t.
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