(Hey, I’ll write about the job search when I have good news, okay?!)
This weekend is when it hit me.
I was driving home from San Diego, where I’d spent a lot less time talking about success and failure than I wanted to but plenty of time thinking about it. I was on the freeway and – I reached for my phone and called Vicky.
“Do me a favor and write this down on a piece of paper so I won’t forget,” I told her. She wrote it down.
Hierarchy of needs.
It was the answer.
I knew it was the answer EVEN THOUGH I had no idea what it meant.
But this is how it works with me – and I’ve learned to accept it. Things come the way they want to come and I’m no one to argue. I’ve long since accepted that I’m more a conduit than a writer.
The thing that hit me, the thing that was the answer… it was everything.
And I’ll tell you now. Oh, I’ll still write the book because, as with all stories, it’s only one small part.
What is success? Why do we fail to recognize success when it happens? I had found the answer to all of that, and more!
So, I suppose I should try to proceed more methodically so it makes some sense, shouldn’t I?
First, I suppose I should explain Kundalini… but, of course, I cannot do that with any real depth or skill…that’s why I’m writing a book and not just a blog entry. Suffice it to say, if you want to know more about Kundalini, there are better sources out there. But I’m still left with having to explain myself… so…
Kundalini is a form of yoga. The word is Sanskrit for “coiled up” and refers to centers in your body that uncoil from bottom to top and the higher up it uncoils, the closer to enlightenment you get. We, in our lives, work our way up these coils as we mature as human beings. Some do this through meditation and study, others aren’t even aware. But it’s a roadmap of sorts, pointing the way to enlightenment.
The Kundalini is divided into chakras. Each chakra illuminates where you are on the path to enlightenment or maturity. Some people would avoid using the word “maturity”; maybe “fulfillment” or “development” is better.
There are six chakras: Root, Sex, Naval, Heart, Throat, and Crown. The first three deal with achieving every day ends – obtaining food, procreation, having possessions. They are animal needs and, sadly, this is how most people busy themselves. Next, is the Heart chakra. This is the beginning of empathy for others. Throat and Crown move towards even higher goals, ending with enlightenment.
Now, I’ve studied Kundalini for years, reading books about it, hearing lectures about it, and it might be the background radiation in my mind that had led me to this new book. But what I didn’t realize is that it isn’t a strictly eastern phenomena, nor that it addresses the subject of success and failure so precisely.
There’s a western component to this, and I realized that it lies in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow was a doctor in the 1950’s, and he theorized that people are motivated by an ascending scale of needs: Physical Survival, Safety, Belonging, Esteem (or, more importantly, Respect), and Actualization. Strangely enough, Maslow was showing the same kind of ascension that the Kundalini practitioners had known for hundreds of years. The scale rose from every day needs (survival and safety), to social needs (love and respect), to even higher goals.
They are both saying, essentially, the same thing in different ways.
This has everything to do with success and failure. It explains why I’ve been so sure that success holds a certain, ethereal component, that it’s not materialistic. Because, if you have food and shelter, even if you’ve found love… there’s something missing. It’s not an eastern or western thing; it transcends that.
That explains the sense of angst that I keep running into when I discuss the concept of success with people. Because, once they start thinking about it, they realize that there’s still something out there they’ve yet to achieve… they just can’t put a name on it.
Because, after all, who thinks about enlightenment these days??? How do you even know that's the next thing you need or want when you're bombarded every day with images and sounds telling you that you can get it at the mall or on Amazon?
The angst I feel about whether or not I’m a success is actually an essential drive, which is intimated in both systems. The key, I think, is perspective. What could essentially be a positive thing, personal evolution (if you will), is turned around (in my mind and that of many others) and we call it “failure”.
Clear as mud? Probably.
But, of course, this gets even more complicated when you start thinking about social evolution and where that is taking us… anyway, I big part of the puzzle was solved. Still have to write it, of course…