(Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar spoke about Success and Happiness to an audience of over 2000 students and faculty of the Birla Institute of Management and Technology followed by a guided meditation. Below is the transcript of Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s views on Success.)

I don’t think I need to address you on happiness and success. You’re already happy! If you are a group of very sad people, there is no point in talking about happiness because whatever I say will go above your heads. And, if you’re already happy, then there is no point in talking about happiness! But success is something we can talk about.

Once I was invited to talk to a group of the most successful people of the world. I was introduced to everyone around. They introduced me to one person saying that so and so is a very successful businessman, but he was a highly irritable personality.

They introduced me to another person saying he was highly moody. His wife told me, ‘Can you do something about my husband’s mood? It goes off all the time’.

When you just look at them you feel that they must have laughed some decades ago. There was no smile on anyone’s face. Some have high BP, some have tension, others have stomach problems. Are these successful people? Many of them look as though they have one foot in the grave.

What is the definition of success? Many times a doctor says, ‘The operation was successful’, but the patient dies. In the pursuit of being successful you get so bogged down in your life; there is no energy, there is no enthusiasm, and there is no confidence. How can such a person be successful?

A person works so hard to achieve a high post, and when he get the post then he is always fearful of losing it. He spends most of his time either blaming or doubting.

My parameter for success is very different. To me, an undying smile is a sign of success, a confidence that cannot be shaken is a sign of success. These people are shaken by small things, is this a sign of success? A sign of success is fearlessness. A fearless attitude in life is a sign of success.

A successful person will never go and steal things because he has the confidence that he can create wealth anywhere he goes, so why do anything unethical?

You know who uses unethical way of amassing wealth? One who has no confidence in himself that he can create wealth. If a person has that confidence that he can create wealth anywhere, then he will not steal or use unethical means of taking money and then ending up in jail. Such people are successful people only for a short time, later on they find themselves in jail. This does not indicate the success of a society, a family or an individual. The benchmark of a progressive society is that there should always be beds available at the hospitals, and the prison cells must be empty. Then it is a progressive society.

Today, there are hospitals coming up each day and there is no space in the prisons. This is not a successful society. It is not a successful life. Somewhere we are missing the point. We need to redefine our parameters of success.

What do we mean by success? When we look at so called successful people, do they look very vibrant? Or do they look so beaten up? What kind of success is this? I tell you, this kind of success is good for nothing! People work so hard with no consideration towards their health, and they have diabetes, cholesterol, insomnia, hypertension; some or the other problem and they can’t enjoy any of the comforts of life.

Half the health we spend in creating wealth, and then we spend half the wealth to gain back the health. This is not an intelligent way of making money, and this will not make us happy.

Happiness and success are linked. It has to be linked. Confidence, compassion, magnanimity, these have to be there. Ups and downs keep happening. If you didn’t want something to happen and it has happened, you need to let go of it, otherwise you cannot be happy. How can you be happy if you’re holding onto unpleasant memories of the past? Unpleasant memories are the biggest hindrance for you to be in the present. The nature of the mind is such, it leaves all the pleasant memories and it grabs onto those few unpleasant events and chews on it. We have advanced in technology but we have not used that technology for our mind. This mind slips many times.

Trade, technology, truth and tradition, these four things need to revived again and again, otherwise they get outdated.

Don’t you keep updating technology? By the time you learn to operate one device, a new model has already come to the market. Isn’t it happening? All the senior citizens sitting here will know. I am trying to learn how to operate this new mobile phone, and before I know it, a new model with more features has already come. So, technology is advancing so fast, and we have to be updated.

Similarly with traditions as well. There are people who discard tradition and there are some who hold onto them without updating them. Both are missing the point. We have beautiful ancient traditions in India which needs to be updated, so that we can bring out the essence of the traditions. Not all that is ancient is bad and not all that is new is good. We need to look at it from a very different perspective.

Technology is there to give us comfort, that is it. Similarly, spirituality is there to bring absolute comfort to our soul and our mind. I call spirituality and meditation as an AC. You know what AC means? Absolute Comfort. If you don’t feel comfortable from the inside then how can you be successful in life? If you are disturbed from within then how can anyone even say that you are successful and happy? We need to relook into this paradigm: How to be successful in the world? We need to redefine the definition of success.

What is important is to take time out for yourself. There is no hurry. This run for success is what makes you stressed, and stress is the biggest killer in the world today. They say the second biggest, but I would say it is the first.

40% of people in Europe are depressed. Luckily in India we have not reached that number but slowly we are reaching there. In fact, Delhi is not behind. Suicidal tendencies have increased so much in Delhi because parents put too much pressure on their children become successful. There’s parent pressure and peer pressure for becoming successful. This is another issue.

So, as I said, we all should take a little time for ourselves. We need to know what is the reality, what is the truth. What am I here for? What is life all about? We need to ask ourselves these questions, and this is what will bring transformation.