Happiness & Ambition

No ambitious person has ever been happy; in fact, the ambitious person is the unhappiest in the world. But we go on training children to be ambitious: “ Be the first, be at the top, and you will be happy! “ and have you ever seen anybody at the top and happy at the same time?

“Was Alexander the Great happy when he became a world conqueror? He was one of the unhappiest men who has ever lived on the earth. Seeing the blissfulness of Diogenes, he became jealous. Becoming jealous of a beggar….?

Diogenes was a beggar; he had nothing, not even a begging bowl. At least Buddha had a begging bowl with him and three robes. Diogenes was naked – and with no begging bowl. He was going to the river one day with his begging bowl. He was thirsty, it was hot, and he wanted to drink water. And then on the way, just when he was on the bank, a dog passed by him running, panting, jumped into the river, had a good bath and drank to his heart’s content. The idea arose in Diogenes’ mind: This dog is freer than me – he does not have to carry a begging bowl. And if he can manage, why can’t I manage without a begging bowl? This is my only possession, and I have to keep an eye on it because it can be stolen. Even in the night once or twice I have to feel whether it is still there or gone.” He threw the begging bowl into the river, bowed to the dog, thanked him for the great message that he had brought for him from existence.

This man. Who had nothing, created jealousy in Alexander’s mind. How miserable he must have been! He confessed to Diogenes, “ if ever again God gives me birth, I will ask him “This time, please don’t make me Alexander – make me Diogenes.”

Diogenes laughed uproariously, and he called the dog – because they had become friends by now, they had started living together – he called the dog and he said, “Look, listen, what nonsense he is talking about! Next life he wants to be Diogenes!  Why next life! If you really want to be a Diogenes, you can be one right this moment , here now. Throw your clothes into the river and forgot all about conquering the world! That is sheer stupidity and you know it.

“ And you have confessed that you are miserable, you have confessed that Diogenes is in a far better, more blissful state. So why not be a Diogenes right now? Lie down on the bank of the river where I am taking my sunbath! This bank is big enough for the both of us.”

Alexander could not accept the invitation, of course. He said, “ Thank you for you invitation. Right now I cannot do it, but next life…”

Diogenes asked him, “where are you going? And what will you do even if you have conquered the world?”

Alexander said, “Then I will rest.”

Diogenes said, “This seems to be absolutely absurd – because I am resting right now!”

If Alexander is not happy, if Adolf Hitler is not happy, if Rockefellers and Carnegies are not happy – the people who have all the money of the world, the people who have all the power in the world, if they are not happy … Just watch people who have succeeded in the world and you will drop the idea of success.

Nothing fails like success. Although you have been told that nothing succeeds like success, I say to you that nothing fails like success.

Happiness has nothing to do with success. Happiness has nothing to do with ambition, happiness has nothing to do with money, power, prestige. It is a totally different dimension.