A Healthy Attitude to Failure
Sant Rajinder Singh Ji Maharaj
Thomas Edison was the inventor of the light bulb. We can well imagine what our lives would be like if it were not for this marvelous invention. While we may take this invention for granted, it was invented through relentless labor. It is said that one day, a critic tried to belittle Edison by saying that Edison had failed 25,000 times while experimenting with a storage battery.
The great Edison is said to have replied, “No, I did not fail. I discovered 24,999 ways that the storage battery does not work.”
Edison’s persistence produced wonderful inventions. His attitude toward failure was what made him successful. He looked upon failure as a learning experience leading him closer to success. Had he given up on the first, the tenth, the hundredth, or the 24,999th try, he never would have succeeded.
Failure Leads to Success
We can apply Edison’s attitude toward failure to our own spiritual life, including our practice of prayer and meditation.
Many sit for meditation and prayer day after day, and sometimes feel discouraged if they have not reached their spiritual goal by the tenth time they meditate.
Instead of pursuing goals and persisting, many people give up. They feel that if they did not attain their goal right away, they have failed.
This attitude causes them to give up too early. If Edison put in the time to keep designing a light bulb 25,000 times until he succeeded, couldn’t we sit for meditation 25,000 times to turn on the inner light bulb?
Failure should not discourage us. If we sit for meditation and receive some flashes of light, or some colors of lights, we should not be disappointed. These are the first steps. By sitting regularly, we will become more proficient in our meditations. We have no idea how beneficial every minute spent in meditation is for us.
In this video clip, Sant Rajinder Singh Ji explains that much like conducting a scientific experiment and adjusting the approach based on results, we can learn to improve our meditations with practice.
We may not see the progress right away, but all the minutes and hours we spend in meditation have a cumulative effect. If we give up—because one day we do not see anything, and another day we see a pinpoint of light, and a third day we see some blue light—then we may not see the great day when we are filled with the effulgent Light of our destination.
Being like Edison takes persistence. This means taking each day we think we have failed as if it were a lesson on what not to do. If we have a day without Light in our meditation, it is a time to analyze if we have not done the technique correctly. Were we busy thinking about the past or the future instead of meditating? Each failure is a chance to improve next time. We will learn the 24,999 things not to do in our meditation. By the 25,000th time we may finally discover the right way to meditate and suddenly be blessed with showers upon showers of radiant Light.
As we sit for meditation and prayer, let us not be discouraged. We should do our part to meditate accurately, and leave the rest to God. Then, one day, we will find that all our efforts have borne fruit, and we will discover the switch to keep the inner light bulb glowing eternally.