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Ambition: The Source of All Misery

Ambition: The Source of All Misery

Sentinel Digital Desk


Ma Prem Naina

What is ambition? A wants to be B, the poor want to be rich, the ugly want to be beautiful. Everyone longs to be something, someone else or something other than what he is. No one is content with himself. Ambition is the greatest poison there is. It brings all other poisons in: greed, violence, competitiveness, struggle, a constant state of war with everybody else. It does not allow any space for love to grow and nothing kills love more than ambitiousness.

Ambition means wanting to be ahead of others. Ambition depends on creating an inferiority complex in us. It creates an ill and neglected state of affairs; it depends on that. Unless inferiority complex exists in us, unless we are full of it, ambition cannot function.

Each child is wounded in such a way that he starts feeling a deep inferiority complex: that others are superior and he has to surpass them, otherwise he is a nobody. Each child is taught to establish a name for themselves in the world, attain fame in the world. Each child is told, "The way you are is not right. You have to prove your mettle; you have to become somebody". Everyone is born with a certain personality trait of his own, with his own uniqueness and own individuality. Nobody else is alike, nobody else has ever been alike and nobody else will ever be alike.

But we are told to "become somebody"; and so we have to become and we have to compete to become that "somebody". Then the struggle starts, because everybody is told to become somebody. Now how many people can be presidents and prime ministers? Then naturally, there arises a cut-throat competition amongst ourselves. Everybody is against everybody else. Life becomes a state of war, a constant war. In this scenario, there is no possibility of peace, love, silence, joy or celebration.

Osho explains, "A happy man is never ambitious. There is no need for him to be ambitious if he is happy. Both things cannot exist together. If one is happy, ambition disappears; if one is ambitious he is miserable. Only in misery, does ambition grows. Ambition simply means we are not happy the way we are. What dreams do you want to fulfil? That means the reality that you are living in is not giving you contentment, it is not enough; you want something more. Only a miserable mind wants something more. The very idea of the "more" is out of misery. But you seem to be very unconscious of your misery. You don't want to recognize it; and at the same time, you don't want to confess it."

Ambitiousness can be said to be monkeyishness. It has been discovered that in monkeys, there exists a hierarchy. There is always the chief monkey – the most cunning, the most dangerous fellow, the most destructive and violent; he becomes the chief, he dominates everybody. If we observe, we can see that hierarchy in a tree where many monkeys are sitting. The topmost monkey will be on the highest branch, then below him will be the others who are wishing him to grow old or die so that they can grab the power. At the lowest branch are young monkeys who are learning ways on how to achieve higher and higher status.

The man who is happy is relaxed, he is in a let-go state of mind; he is at rest. He enjoys himself. He is not interested in becoming somebody else, he is not interested in being somewhere else, he is not interested in the future at all. His present is such a joy; each moment is such an ecstasy that he does not bother about the future. Tomorrow exists only for the miserable, because the miserable lives in hope. His life is so full of misery that the only way to tolerate is to go on keeping some hope, hoping that tomorrow things will be different.

As such, it would not be wrong to say that ambition is the source of all misery. As Osho says, "Whatsoever you are, you are not content with it. That is ambition. Then you are bound to be in misery, because you cannot be anything else. You can only be yourself, nothing else is possible. All else is just futile, harmful, dangerous. You can waste your life, your existence."

He adds, "Whatsoever you are, you are. Accept it, don't desire otherwise. This is what non-ambition means. Non-ambitiousness is basic to all spiritual transformations, because once you accept yourself, many things start happening. The first thing: If you accept yourself totally, the first thing that happens to you is a non-tense life. There is no tension. You don't want to be anything else, there is nowhere to go. Then you can be here and now. Then, there is no comparison. Then, you are unique, yourself. Then, you are not thinking in terms of others."

Ambition needs future and space to grow. Ambition cannot grow here and now, there is no space. The moment is so small, so atomic. Ambition needs the future; the greater the ambition, the greater a future that is needed. If our ambition is so great that it cannot be fulfilled in this life, then we create an afterlife.

One cannot be ambitious in the present moment, there is no space. One can be in it, but cannot harbour any desire in it. It is not long enough to harbour desires. To desire, we need a future and time. Time exists because of desire. For trees, bird and stars, there is no time. Time exists because of human desire. If humanity did not exist on earth, there would be no time: there would be no past and no future.

The past, the future and the present are not parts of time. The past and the future are parts of a desiring mind. Time consists only of the present, the here-and-now. Time consists only of eternal moments. Our desire creates the future. Our memory creates the past. They are parts of our mind. When we don't desire, the future disappears. When there is no future how can we be tensed? If there is no past and we know that it is simply memory, dust collected on the way, then there is no anxiety. With the past, anxiety enters. With the future, plans, imaginations, projections, tensions exist. With the past dropped, the future not opened, we are here-now. No anxiety, no tension, no anguish.

Non-ambition means accepting ourselves as we are. That doesn't mean that there is no possibility of growth. On the contrary, when we accept ourselves as we are, a transformation sets in. We start growing, but the dimension differs. Then the dimension is not in the future, the dimension is in the eternal.

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