32 QUESTION: What about the ambivalence of over-ambition and lack of ambition in life? In other words, where does it come from, apart from laziness, if for instance there is no pronounced talent, or let us say, a glandular disturbance?
ANSWER: A glandular disturbance is only an effect, as you know. Now let us discuss first a lack of ambition. As I promised you, I will analyze faults and lead you back to their original good quality. I will do it here with both extremes. I will then show you the harm the distortion does, what is connected with it, and what it means in the light of spiritual law.
The good quality that was once the underlying factor of a lack of ambition was benevolence, harmony, a certain type of tolerance, of humility. This meant that such a person does not have to stand out and shine and be better or higher than others, for it does not add to peace if one strives too hard to triumph over others.
I want it well understood that if you have the shortcoming of lack of ambition, this very fault can tempt to hold on to the positive side of this trait when hearing these words, and to forget the wrong extreme with its harmfulness. However, you should remember that your fault has a positive side or background, so to say.
Build on that, so as to give you strength in your work to overcome this fault, so as to prevent you from feeling guilty. For no fault has been added on to you; all faults are but distortions or extreme manifestations of a once good quality. Furthermore, remember that it is possible to have a fault in one area of your personality, but in another you do not have it at all.
Often you are only aware of the positive side of a particular trend, while you ignore its existence on the negative side. But the people around you often know. When they voice this, however, you feel unjustly accused, because for you only the unconscious, unaware positive side appears to exist. The human being is ambivalent; there are many contradictory currents in you.
The harm of lack of ambition is a very grave one. Of course it is self-evident that it is neither desirable nor necessary to have ambition in all respects of life, for this would mean a waste of strength. But when ambitiousness is cultivated, it should be kept in mind that one must choose properly for what purpose one trains himself in this direction. It should be something that is worthwhile. The subject discussed in this lecture [Lecture #32 Making Decisions], concerning the proper decisions, will shed a light on this too.
Ambition is often a price for what you desire. If you give in to your lack of ambition and then seem to be left wanting in one or more ways in life, you should realize you were not ready to pay a price that could perhaps only be paid by efforts that needed ambition.
Spiritually, a lack of ambition is a very great hindrance. This sluggishness will prevent you from accomplishing your development, which alone can bring you true happiness and security. If you lack happiness and you possess this trait, you should not bear a grudge because your needs were unfulfilled; instead, realize clearly what your decision has been in this case.
On the one side, to give in to the immediate comforts is choosing the line of least resistance. The disadvantage here is that your conflicts, hungers, needs, and insecurities will persist as long as you do not fight the temptation of taking the line of least resistance, which shows lack of ambition.
On the other side, the price is the hard work of overcoming a very deep-rooted laziness, which means constant fight, constant trying. The gain is that you come out of the webs of darkness, loneliness, unhappiness – but not until after you have shown ample proof that you have really and wholeheartedly fought and succeeded in some measure.
Make your choice, for even making a negative choice is healthier than not seeing the issues clearly, hoping to relinquish only a tiny bit of your weakness, while expecting results that you would only be entitled to if you were to take yourself in hand completely.
If you emotionally and unconsciously hope to attain spiritual development and thus peace of mind without making serious efforts to overcome this basic hindrance, you are actually attempting spiritual theft in some way. It means that you want to gain the harmony that can only be reached by paying the price – namely hard spiritual work.
The necessary spiritual work here involves the overcoming of your greatest faults without exception. To understand lack of ambition from this point of view will, perhaps, make it easier for you to overcome it. You have not truly overcome this fault as long as you still have to force yourself to do the work.
This means that your emotions still resist, that you are still not one with yourself. Simply recognize this fact and go on working if you have decided to do so. One day God’s grace and help will affect you so that what was once an effort will cease to be one.
This will be a sign to you that your emotions have followed suit to your outer goodwill and that in this respect you have become one with yourself. Incidentally, I am not speaking personally to anyone in particular now. As in all my answers to questions, my words are addressed to many.
So my friends, meditate upon this weakness from this angle: “If I have no ambition, if it is so difficult for me that whatever I do goes against the grain and I must force myself to do it; if I cannot do it with enthusiasm and real willpower; and if I still desire that which is rightfully mine if I were not to feel that way, my emotions want to steal something. I desire to steal happiness – or any other result.”
Realize, please, that when I say that emotionally you want to steal something, I know that you do not want to do so consciously. That is always where the misunderstandings arise.
I often speak of the desires of your emotions by translating them into concise language, for otherwise they could not be interpreted for your intellectual understanding. These emotions are often unconscious. And then, my friends, you take my translation of your emotions as an injustice because consciously, of course, you do not think that way.
You overlook the fact that there is every so often a great chasm between what you consciously think and even truly desire, and what is in your unconscious, undermining that good and true desire by a contrary emotional current which you ignore. But, of course, you are not aware of that so far. It will be very important for you to become aware of it and that is why I occasionally point out this discrepancy.
Be careful to understand that I do so to avoid completely unnecessary hurt feelings. In learning to become aware of these currents, you must first get to understand and interpret the symptoms, which this unconscious current quite clearly sends forth all the time. Then you will see the symptoms all around you. So far, you have only chosen to overlook them.
Returning to your question: meditate upon this trend from the point of view shown you here. Realize that you must put effort into anything when you want to reap the fruits, which, of course, you do. You should not muster this effort because you are being told to do so, because you want to be a “good child,” still doing it against your will.
You must reach the state when you do it independently, responsibly and maturely, because you realize yourself that everything has a price. To fight inwardly against this fact is not only disrespectful of God’s wisdom and justice, but also foolish.
As far as the opposite extreme is concerned – over-ambitiousness – the original good quality is a strong willpower, a readiness to pay the price in effort, a desire to work, to serve in the higher realms for others. In lower realms the goal becomes the self. Use the positive aspects to cleanse this current of its exaggerated, distorted, and negative aspects which are: a certain type of selfishness; a power drive; self-righteousness; a certain greediness to have more, to be more.
Often, over-ambitious people have such a strong desire current that they become ruthless in attaining their goal at the expense of others. Again I say, it is not necessary that your acts be that way, but it is sufficient that you are that way in your emotions. You should understand that over-ambitiousness creates an unhealthy desire current that runs in a wrong way and robs you of peace.
Here desirelessness has to be achieved in a certain measure. Not completely, because then it would again become the opposite extreme of no ambition, and imbalance would result. The spiritual person in particular has to decide for what purpose and where to have ambition; on the other hand, the ambitiousness should cease when it is time for desirelessness to set in.
QA129 QUESTION: I’d like to ask a question about ambition. It seems that two years ago I had much more ambition than I have today. Although I’ve gone further in the Path in all areas, it worries me that I have this lack of ambition.
ANSWER: How would you say that this lack of ambition, or what you think is lack of ambition, is expressed? In what way do you notice it?
QUESTION: That I don’t have a goal that I used to have, which was sort of daydreaming about certain success in a certain area. Now I don’t have a goal. I am very involved in the present situation.
ANSWER: What you are going through – I now know what you mean – is a very natural period of transition. As I often said, and this is a very important point to remember, a positive attitude towards life must never be confused with wishful thinking and daydreaming [Lecture #98 Wishful Daydreams]. In fact, daydreaming and wishful thinking are the result of a very negative attitude.
You have begun to eliminate this negative attitude to some extent at least in certain areas. There’s a considerable progress in this respect. Therefore, daydreaming has become less compulsive or less necessary for you. You’re more involved with the immediate reality, to deal with the reality issues of every day. But you have not yet reached the state where you can fearlessly and guiltlessly state that you wish the attainment of certain success.
You still feel that you have no right to make such claims, that something holds you back from making such claims. This will come, little by little, as you proceed in this work to eliminate further limitations, further wrong conclusions, further fears that hold you back, further guilts that make it so difficult still to really expand to the full possibility that you have in experiencing life in its beauty and in its challenge and in its dynamic.
You see, you have given up the daydreams. The daydreams were not really ambition. They were a substitute for the life you deep down did not think you could ever have, so you experienced that in a dream that was perpetually in the future and where you never really thought in reality the future could become a present. It was a game you played, as though a make believe, as though a theater performance, as one goes to the theater in order to precariously live because one cannot live in reality. This is the way you experienced your daydream.
That you have given this up does not mean a letting go of ambition. You have as yet to find the freedom to set real goals for yourself, where you do not have ambitions for the sake of proving something to anybody, but where you can express your full potential merely for the sake of giving and receiving enjoyment and the constructive talent that exists in you.
This is the right kind of ambition as opposed to the wrong kind of ambition that is a substitute for lack of self-esteem, where one has to prove something to those one feels have rejected and belittled them. This kind of ambition you do not need. You learn to let go of that as well as the daydream ambition.
You’re now dealing with day to day, and gradually you expand the idea that you really and truly, as a divine manifestation, are meant to unfold to experience happiness.
QA166 QUESTION: There is some block in my mind that’s keeping me from reaching my ambition, and this block is confusing me so that I’m not even sure what these ambitions are. It’s also making me a very dependent person. Do you think using psychotherapy can be very helpful?
ANSWER: Any kind of psychotherapy would, of course, be helpful, especially if it combines a spiritual outlook and a path that realizes that we are dealing here not only with pathology but also with misunderstood creative aspects of your innermost being.
In the first place, I would reverse the statement you made. It does not make you dependent. The block is actually in a way a result of your dependency and not the dependency the result of the block. The dependency is very strong in certain ways, and the block is also caused by a self-urgency that you cannot put your finger on.
Therefore I say that psychotherapy or any kind of deep therapy must understand, if it is to be a profound help, that the urgency is in part a message from your inner spiritual self that says, “Develop yourself. Grow. You have more potentials to fulfill.”
Another part of the urgency is the dependent little self that wants approval, that wants something and doesn’t know quite what. In other words, it is a neurotic part of yourself that makes you urgent in intent. But just as much, it is the misplaced and misinterpreted message of your spiritual self that says, “Go the other way. Go into yourself. Become free and independent.”
The block is that many of your ambitions are based on the dependent self, the conforming self, the self that wants to do things for the sake of proving something, rather than for the sake of self-expression and pleasure and delight in life.
It comes from that part in you where you do not believe that this is a worthy goal to express yourself for the sake of delight and pleasure, and where you deny this in yourself. Therefore, you deny your spiritual self – for the spiritual self is delight and pleasure, constantly.
Then because of that, there is a violation of integrity; wherever one denies the spiritual self, one sells out, as it were. These unconscious factors block you. They block you because of the intensity, the urgency, which you cannot put your finger on. They block you because some of the ambitions are not real goals but illusory goals.