“A long while ago, a great warrior faced a situation which made it necessary for him to make a decision which insured his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy’s country, unloaded soldiers and equipment, then gave the order to burn the ships that had carried them. Addressing the men before the first battle, he said, “You see the boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores unless we win! We now have no choice—we win—or we perish!”
Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win, essential to success.” ~ Napoleon Hill from Think and Grow Rich
Wow. Love that. Puts things in perspective, eh? Now, you may be thinking to yourself, “That’s a little extreme.” And, well, yep. You’re right. It’s extreme. That’s the WHOLE point.
Weak desire will get weak results. INTENSE desire will get intense results. Of course, in the process of learning to manage that kind of intense flame of desire, we often burn ourselves up and burn up those around us. That’s part of the deal.
When that happens (and it will), you have two choices: read the “Gita,” learn to meditate, renounce all desires, and strive to be like your guru who’s dead from the neck down and just kinda smiles and bobs his head OR learn to MANAGE the intensity. (And, of course, while managing your intense desires you can still meditate, read the “Gita” and all that, but then we learn to make a distinction between NO desires and ATTACHMENT to desires... but that’s another discussion. :)
Ken Wilber and John Eliot come to mind here.
First, Eliot--a leading expert on “Overachievement” who wrote a book by the same name (see Notes). He’s also the descendant of a bunch of Harvard Presidents and the great T.S. Eliot who said, “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
In his great book, Eliot likens the idea of trying to turn your desire/stress down to a race car driver swapping out his v12 engine for a v4 because it “rides smoother.” Well, sure, it rides smoother. But it *definitely* isn’t going to win any races. Of course, if your ultimate goal is to serenely watch life pass by then a v4 (or just not driving at all, really) would be a good bet. If, however, your ultimate goal is full and complete expression of your divine gifts in the greatest service to the world then keep the v12 and learn how to handle it. ;)
Now Ken Wilber. He has a *phenomenal* passage in “One Taste” where he’s addressing this same issue from the perspective of transcending one’s ego. He makes the SUPER important distinction that as we transcend our egos we need to make sure we don’t EXCLUDE them. We need to go beyond a merely egoic sense of self but NOT get rid of the individualized expression of God that makes us who we are.
Wilber talks about the fact that the great sages we admire were INTENSE (imagine Jesus walking into a TEMPLE with a BULLWHIP (gives me goosebumps) and then tell me he wasn’t an INTENSE dood). He offers this in his remarkable prose:
“The great yogis, saints, and sages accomplished so much precisely because they were not timid little toadies but great big egos, plugged into the dynamic Ground and Goal of the Kosmos itself, plugged into their own higher Self… they opened their mouths and the world trembled, fell to its knees, and confronted its radiant God…
There is certainly a type of truth to the notion of transcending ego: it doesn’t mean destroy the ego, it means plug it into something bigger… Put bluntly, the ego is not an obstruction to Spirit, but a radiant manifestation of Spirit. The integral sage, the nondual sage, is here to show us otherwise. Known generally as “Tantric,” these sages insist on transcending life by living it. They insist on finding release by engagement, finding nirvana in the midst of samsara, finding total liberation by complete immersion.” [from “One Taste: November 17”]
Wow. So, uh, you want to get rich? Burn your ships. Plug into source and shine!