book is about success and motivation; getting what you want out of life.
It is also about the untapped awareness and potential each of us can
have access to. This awareness can radically change our perception of
ourselves and life, and thereby affect our feelings regarding our life
One of the classics of American success and motivational philosophy
is Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, written in 1937 after 20 years
of research involving interviews with 504 of the most successful individuals
of the Western world including businessmen, inventors, and presidents.
This timeless work clearly defines the ingredients necessary for the
attainment of one's desires. It offers the reader a plan and strategy
for making a certain amount of money or securing a fulfilling, rewarding
job. It also offers ways to cultivate positive self imagery and goal
In essence, it offers the reader the skills and tools necessary to attain,
quickly and effectively, one's desires for money and success. The book
stresses a concept that was quite revolutionary in America in 1937:
the importance of positive mental attitude and visualization in the
attainment of one's desires. A focused and concentrated mind was recognized
by Mr. Hill as being the single most important factor in successful
people. He looked at situations that most people would have called "luck"
or "chance" and saw that it was actually a mental attitude
that created the outcome. He was one of the first Western analysts to
recognize the incredible power of a focused, concentrated, and positive
These same principles, in various forms and disguises, are expounded
upon by self-help and motivational speakers and authors to this day.
Unfortunately, something is missing from this philosophy of success.
Significant questions regarding the choice of goals and the effects
and ramifications of various pursuits are not addressed. Also, mankind's
potentialities are often severely underestimated. We often limit our
awareness to material desires and neglect our spiritual possibilities.
The materialistic motivation which inspires much of our activity
is never questioned. The words of Jesus offer a note of caution:
do not worry or say, what will we eat, or what will we drink, or with
what will we be clothed?
For worldly people seek after all these things. Your Father in heaven
knows that all of these things are also necessary for you.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all those
things shall be added to you.
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will look after
itself. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.
Western theories regarding motivation and self-help always reference
a deeper intelligence that provides a key ingredient in the attainment
of one's desires. That intelligence is often called the subconscious,
infinite love, intelligence, the creative force, or God. This aspect
of the formula for success is often left unexplored. Eastern philosophy
deals with this subject wonderfully and can provide us with a wealth
of understanding regarding this mysterious aspect of life.
Choose a desire, fixate upon it and it will be yours. This is the attitude
of many motivators. We are offered the secrets of success, but little
account is taken of the interconnectedness of all life and the significance
of each of our desires and actions.
My uneasiness with these philosophies and practices is that they do
not adequately question the unbridled pursuit of desire or the deeper
significance's of the pursuit. Look at America today and you can see
the tragedy that results from the relentless pursuit of materialistic
desire. At the same time, the West demonstrates a power and dynamism
unknown to Eastern cultures, a power and dynamism that could be a great
help to those nations.
Our scientific, rational understanding of the world has allowed us to
create incredible technology and domination over nature. This has proven
to be both a blessing and a curse. This analytical attitude toward life
has also aided us in understanding the human body, although we have
also lost much of our intuitive or holistic knowledge of health and
healing. The scientific method has done little though when it comes
to man understanding his place in this vast, mysterious world. We can
analyze the distance of our solar system or the speed of light, but
this knowledge has not brought us the peace of mind and heart possessed
by many of the great spiritual teachers throughout history.
Eastern mystical and spiritual philosophy takes a sharply contrasting
view from the Western scientific approach. Eastern philosophers and
Western mystics, such as St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine, say that
the only desires that can bring us true, abiding happiness — which
is admittedly what we all truly seek — are either the desire for
God, the infinite and eternal, or the desire for the cessation of all
desires. This philosophy is based on the idea that desire arises from
the sense of self, from our ego. We seek to satiate our sense of self
and ego through our multifarious activities. This sense of self is based
on separation and distinction. "Me" as separate from all else.
Therefore, seeking satisfaction for "me" serves to strengthen
a sense of isolation and separation. This sense of self becomes ever
stronger and separates us from the rest of the world. We soon find ourselves
living estranged from other people and the world around us. The resulting
sense of isolation and loneliness causes inner pain and suffering for
many people. Each time we do things for other people we counteract this
activity. A feeling of completeness, or oneness with life, is lost soon
after childhood as we seek happiness in primarily selfish and self-centered
ways. The Buddha's 2500 year-old statement, "Desire is the root
of all suffering," sums up these ideas.