Eliminating Habits of Failure

Paramhansa Yogananda

If failures invade you repeatedly, don’t get discouraged. They should act as stimulants to your material or spiritual growth.

Obliterating malignant seeds of failure and ill health

It is man’s reaction to his various experiences—how he faces his tests in the school of life—which indicates how far he has advanced toward perfection. His reactions to everyday experiences not only affect his progress toward ultimate freedom, but also determine his success or failure and his health or sickness for many incarnations.

Like some physical diseases which send their roots deep into his body, the evil effects of man’s wrong actions, unless destroyed, become a part of his conscious, subconscious, and super conscious minds and are felt not alone in one lifetime, but in many lives.

What causes good or ill fortune?

The failures and successes of everyday life become rooted in the mind. Unless they come to fruition or are worked out by wisdom, they bear seeds that the soul must carry into another incarnation as tendencies and traits. These stubborn ghosts of the past hide in the recesses of your mind, and emerge suddenly to help or hinder, according to the circumstances confronting you. These hidden seed tendencies can cause people to fail in their undertakings, in spite of their conscious efforts.

During the war, Henry Ford nearly lost his whole fortune. He had acquired great wealth because he had been prosperous in former lives, but his mind held seed thoughts of fear of failure because of failures in past lives. When conditions during wartime were unfavorable to his line of business, his failure seeds sprouted and almost caused his financial ruin. If he had allowed himself to become truly discouraged, he would have lost everything. By a superhuman effort of will, he fought off the brutal business competitors who were bent on destroying his company. His success consciousness of the past was reinforced by his initiative in this life, his trained business judgment, his knack for choosing the right co-workers, his perseverance, and his daring.

To summarize: financial success depends upon one’s earning ability in past lives, and one’s initiative and persevering quality of will in this life.

Actions of the past and present affect our lives

If the success tendency from past lives and the efforts to succeed in this life are weak, then the chances of financial success in this incarnation are almost negligible. If a person’s success tendency from the past is strong, and his present life is marked by inactivity and inertia, then he will either be born into a wealthy family or suddenly inherit a fortune.

The individual who has a strong prosperity consciousness from a past life and makes a strenuous effort to earn money in this life succeeds in all his ventures; such a person seldom loses an investment and has unfailing business judgment. If one begins with a poverty tendency from previous lives but wants to overcome it in this life, he has to struggle uphill in order to succeed. He may either become prosperous late in life or die struggling. But his efforts will not have been in vain, for his next incarnation will be dominated by the success karma resulting from those struggles.

Those who accept failure as the decree of fate are foolish, for success or failure is the result of acquirement either in the present or in the past. If you did not acquire wealth in the past, or if you did acquire it and lost it, dying with the consciousness of your loss, you will be reborn in poverty. By trying hard to overcome your handicap, you stimulate the dormant success consciousness of past lives, until it overshadows the influence of the failure tendencies.

The will is man’s most effective weapon

A man cannot be an absolute failure unless he permits fear of failure to exert a paralyzing influence over him. Friendly success tendencies are ready to help the individual who puts out unflinching efforts; inimical failure tendencies can crush the one who is resigned to “his fate.”

These are his invisible friends and his unseen enemies. If he rouses his will by repeated judicious efforts, he will awaken the success tendencies sleeping in the chamber of subconsciousness. The will is the weapon for vanquishing failure. Constant use of the will keeps it keen-edged and ready to serve one faithfully. The power of a strong will guided by divine wisdom is unlimited. To its possessor nothing is impossible.

Man carries within himself the seeds of past errors, but he also carries within the seeds of all fulfillment. Under favorable conditions these germinate, and their growth helps to choke the weeds of failure. Financial success in all lives is not impossible to one who knows how to destroy the tendencies of failure by the power of super-concentration.

How to abolish want

The only possibility of abolishing want in the world lies in the willingness of successful people to aid failures by helping them overcome their past karma and stimulating their initiative. Some people satisfy their craving for wealth by impoverishing their fellow men; others fail to share their prosperity. Their selfishness is responsible for much suffering in the world. It is deplorable that people who ride in Rolls Royces often ignore the needs of mental and physical cripples who have never received the help that would enable them to help themselves.

If a wealthy man who has acquired success by overcoming his failure tendencies becomes lazy or ignores the needs of others, he may lose his wealth through poor investments or attract poverty to himself in the next life. Rich people who disregard the sufferings of others are reborn with a craving for luxuries but no means to satisfy that craving.


The importance of meditation

A man striving for permanent success must meditate every morning and night. When the peace rays of super consciousness pierce his restlessness, he must concentrate these rays in the brain and mind, scorch the lurking seeds of past failures, and stimulate the seeds of success.

In other words, during meditation the yogi feels the power of concentration in the will center at the point between the eyebrows, and also experiences a feeling of complete peace throughout his body. When he wants to scour from the brain cells the seeds of past failure or sickness, he must direct that peace-and-concentration power to be felt in the entire brain. In this way the brain cells become impregnated with peace and power, and their hereditary chemical and psychological composition s altered.

If failures invade you repeatedly, don’t get discouraged. They should act as stimulants to your material or spiritual growth. The period of failure is the best season for sowing the seeds of success. Weed out the causes of failure, and launch with double vigor what you want to accomplish. The bludgeon of circumstances may beat you, but keep your head unbowed. Death in the attempt to succeed is success; refuse to harbor the consciousness of defeat. Try always once more, no matter how many times you have failed. When you have done your best and think you can do no more, persevere one minute more in the race for success.

Every new effort after a failure must be well planned and charged with increasing intensity of attention.

Malignant seeds of past karma (action) can be roasted and destroyed only by the fire of persistent effort. Most people give up hope just when the balance of good karma is slowly stooping toward them to give its fruit, and thus they miss their reward.

If you have an inferiority complex, remember that success, health, and wisdom are your rightful heritage.

If you have an inferiority complex, remember that success, health, and wisdom are your rightful heritage. Your sense of weakness may have had its inception in one or more factors. It can be overcome by determination, courage, common sense, and faith in God and in yourself.

If you are firmly convinced you are a failure, change your mental attitude at once! Be unshakable in your conviction that you have all the potentiality of great success. At times you may find it helpful to recall your mental reactions on occasions when you were unsuccessful in some undertaking. Consult your spiritual teacher. You may find it necessary also to change your mental and physical environment in order to install the proper habits of thought.

After you begin to experience success, act with wisdom and perseverance, no matter what happens, until you demonstrate that you’ve succeeded as you believed you would.

Overcoming fear and failure

The phenomenon of fear is a mental poison, unless it is used as an antidote, a stimulus to spur an individual to calm caution. Fear produces a malignant magnetism which draws to itself the objects of fear, as a magnet draws pieces of iron. Fear increases all our miseries. It intensifies and magnifies our physical pain and mental agonies a hundredfold.

Fear is destructive to the heart, nervous system, and brain. It is destructive to the initiative, courage, judgment, common sense, and will power.

Fear contaminates the subconscious mind, and the subconscious mind in turn can completely destroy the willing efforts of the conscious mind. Fear throws a veil over intuition, and shrouds the almighty power of your confidence and the soul’s all-conquering power.

Uproot fear and thoughts of failure

Failures and successes remain deeply rooted in the conscious, subconscious, and super conscious minds of one life. Unless released by fruition or wisdom, they accumulate, and at death, travel beyond the grave. Successes and failures are carried to another life as seed tendencies. These past seed tendencies, though generally hidden in one life, begin to manifest themselves when favorable germinating elements arrive.

When something is threatening to hurt you, do not sit idle—do something calmly, do something quickly, do something, mustering all the power of your will and judgment. Will is the motive power which works the machine of activity.

Fears of failure or sickness are cultivated by constantly revolving them in the mind until they become rooted in the subconsciousness, and finally in the super consciousness. From there, fear begins to germinate and fill the conscious mind with fear plants, which bear fruits with poisonous consequences.

If you are unable to dislodge the haunting fear of ill health or of failure, divert your attention by reading interesting books which absorb your attention, or even indulge in harmless amusements. The mind will forget to haunt itself with fear; with new energy, then, you can take up the shovels of various mental strategies and dig out the roots of failure and ill health from the soil of your life.

Uproot fear by forceful concentration upon courage, and by shifting your consciousness to the absolute peace within. Once you have uprooted fear, get busy with methods to acquire prosperity and health.

Fearlessness is a cardinal virtue

Associate with healthy and prosperous people who do not fear sickness or failure. There is a deep-seated reason for chronic ill health and repeated failures. Idlers do not succeed. The self indulgent suffer, or gradually turn their bodies into hibernating pits of concealed disease germs.

To an unseeing materialist, a disease might appear to be inherited, or the result of a physical law. The doctor says that the father or grandfather had tuberculosis, and that is the reason the son has it. But the spiritual doctor, who traces the deeper causes of chronic diseases and unjust suffering, finds that certain so called hereditary diseases are not transmitted from one soul to another due to physical reasons. He says that the unborn soul carrying a tubercular tendency from a previous life is drawn to a family where there is tubercular infection.


Of course, tuberculosis can be produced in a healthy body by disregarding physical and hygienic laws. No person, however healthy, good, or prosperous, can be sure of his future unless he has destroyed all seeds of past lives.

Do not fear accidents or disease if you have had them once; rather, be afraid of fear, for fear may bring repeated accidents or disease, and fearlessness will avert them in all probability, or at least neutralize their power.

Death is a deliverer

Do not be afraid to die, for death is a deliverer, and you will not die twice. When death comes, then the cause of fear is removed. When suffering is intense, death delivers us from all pain and mental suffering.

Kill fear by knowing that you are protected behind the battlements of God’s Eternal Safety—that you are safe even when death dances at your door. God’s protecting rays can burn the menacing clouds of doomsday, calm the waves of trials, and keep you safe even if you are on the battlefield of life with bullets of trials relentlessly flying. Without God, your life, health, and prosperity are not protected, even if you hide in a hygienic castle of opulence, surrounded by impregnable trenches.

When fear comes, tense and relax, exhale several times. Switch on the electricity of calmness and nonchalance. Let your whole mental machinery awaken and actively hum with the vibration of will. Then harness the power of will to the cogwheels of fearless caution and continuous good judgment, which must continuously revolve and produce mental solutions for escaping your specific, impending calamity.

© 2008 Excerpted from “How To Be A Success.” Published by Crystal Clarity.

Habits_Failures_ParamhansaBorn in India in 1893, Paramhansa Yogananda was trained from his early years to bring India’s ancient science of Self-realization to the West. In 1920 he moved to the United States to begin what was to develop into a worldwide work touching millions of lives. Americans were hungry for India’s spiritual teachings, and for the liberating techniques of yoga. In 1946 he published what has become a spiritual classic and one of the best-loved books of the 20th century, Autobiography of a Yogi. In addition, Yogananda established headquarters for a worldwide work, wrote a number of books and study courses, gave lectures to thousands in most major cities across the United States, wrote music and poetry, and trained disciples. Yogananda’s message to the West highlighted the unity of all religions, and the importance of love for God combined with scientific techniques of meditation. www.crystalclarity.com

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