Home / Opinion / Business and spirituality: From ambition to vision

You become spiritual only because you are very greedy. If you are a little greedy, you would want to get yourself a piece of creation. Whether you buy a safety pin or a mansion or a whole city, you are buying a piece of creation. But someone who is spiritual is extremely greedy because he wants the creator himself! Others go in instalments. A spiritual person wants to go all out. His greed is unbounded. A spiritual person wants to make too much profit. It is just that this profit is no longer exclusive. It has become all-inclusive.

The bane of the world is that human beings are working with limited, individualistic ambition. Instead, what is needed is to work with a deeper vision of life for themselves and everything around them.

What is ambition? Ambition is just an exaggeration of what is existing right now. Vision, as the word suggests, is about a new possibility—something which is not yet. Ambition is about wanting to take as much as we can. Vision is about making everything yours. One is an aggressive way of taking it, another is an embrace. It is like the distinction between love and rape. Both are the same for external viewers, but it is a world of difference. Making the world yield to you willingly and trying to take a piece of the world are two different dimensions of life.

Sometime ago, I was addressing the House of Lords in the UK. The subject was Sustainability: Is Consciousness the Key? When we look at the way our ambitions are designed and structured right now, a lot of people across the planet are aspiring to a lifestyle similar to that of an average American citizen. The Living Planet—an authoritative source of ecological information—says that if the seven billion people on the planet achieve the lifestyle of an average American, we will need 4.5 planets. But we have only one.

This kind of personal ambition is self-destructive. It is going to lead us to a disastrous situation. If we carry on with this, we can only wish that at least half the people should never succeed. If someone comes to you, you must be able to freely bless him with success in whatever he desires, but the way it is going now, we have to wish them failure.

It is very natural for every human being to strive to be something more than what he/she is right now. The problem is we have scaled down our ambition. We need to up it, not bring it down. If you scale ambition up to its ultimate level, ambition is a spiritual process—a process of liberation. If you really take it up to its ultimate possibility, if you become absolutely, utterly ambitious, then you are spiritual too.

Anyway, you want well-being. All I am saying is, why are you stingy about your desires? Why don’t you be magnanimous? It is not just about “I want to be well". “I want the whole world to be well. I want the whole existence to be well. I want all life to be well." Be really greedy with your ambition. Whatever is your ambition for yourself, extend that to all life on this planet.

If we bring about this shift in economic leaders, from operating out of narrow personal ambitions to operating out of a larger vision, that will be the greatest thing for the future generations of the world.

All this philosophy, is it possible for a businessman? It is very much possible and not only possible, it is especially necessary for the businessman because business is about expansion. Does expansion happen because of inclusiveness or does it happen because you forcefully take something? If you forcefully take something, you will never expand to your full capacity. Only if you learn how to make the world yield to what you want it to be, can you take it all. Ambition is about more, vision is about all.

There is a beautiful story in Indian lore. A monkey goes into a house and finds a jar full of nuts. He puts his hand inside and takes a handful. The jar has a narrow neck so his hand gets stuck. Unless he lets go of some nuts, the hand will not come out. But he is ambitious. He isn’t willing to let go of even one nut. He pulls and pulls, but the hand does not come. Then, a wise monkey comes—some monkeys are wise, you know. The wise monkey says, “This is not the way. Let go of the nuts." And together they overturn the jar and all the nuts fall out. We have to move from “more" to “all". If you journey from “more" to “all", that means you have travelled from ambition to vision.

Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev is the founder of Isha Foundation.

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