False success means abandoning what is in your heart for the lure of money and security. When we primarily strive for more and more money or possessions, we will never get enough to satisfy. There will always be a better job, a newer car, or a bigger house. Whatever we gain in material success will never be enough, because these desires for "more" arise from conditioned social drives, not from real needs.
For several years, while in my early twenties, I managed convenience stores. I finally grew tired of being robbed at gunpoint and blamed for endless shortages by a supervisor who was later fired for embezzlement. At my mother's urging, I went to work at my father's company, a chain of career clothing stores in Houston.
My father began the business from home, while working a full time job, and supporting a family of six. After several years of hard work, he and my mother managed to build it into four stores.
Their accomplishment was a vision of success. Shortly after I joined, my father incorporated the business, and named me vice president. Together, we planned to open more stores, buy land for shopping centers, and expand into other kinds of businesses.
I saw my new position as a promise of financial security. My parents expected me to continue the business they had so painstakingly built from nothing. However, I never asked myself if this was what I really wanted to do. It seemed that if I were going to surrender to the world's model of success, this was the best role I would ever get.
Around this same time, I met the man who became my teacher, Adnan Sarhan, while he was traveling and teaching in America. Originally from Baghdad, he was born with a heritage of Sufi experiential knowledge and grew up under the influence of spiritual teachers in a cultural tradition where everyday life and spiritual development had been interwoven for thousands of years. His unique talent seemed to be in his ability to make Sufi traditions, that originated in the Middle East, both accessible and palatable for Westerners.
I found his teaching methods penetrated on many levels. My mind became more settled and my thoughts clearer. Also, my vision improved while my body developed increased strength, flexibility, and a sense of readiness. I often came away from these workshops with the feeling that I had just awakened to a brighter, more hopeful reality. This feeling lasted long after the workshops and began to grow.
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The more of the training I did, the more I wanted to explore it further. I decided to attend a summer retreat with Adnan in the mountains of North Carolina. It was here that we had a brief talk which dramatically changed the course of my life.
One day, after a lengthy exercise session, Adnan came over to sit beside me. After a few casual comments, he told me that I should quit my job, that it would only hold me back in the work I would be doing later. Suddenly, reality collapsed and expanded around that single statement. The bridge of safety and assurance I had built upon my future business plans just disintegrated, spilling me into a wild current of unknown waters. Yet, I could not bring myself to disagree with him, his sense of calm command overrode the impulse to argue my position. Seemingly indifferent, he got up and walked away without waiting for me to reply.
I had given him few details about my life, yet he spoke with the calm authority of knowing exactly what I had been doing and what I should do next. It was also as if he were telling me something about myself that I already knew but had been unable to admit.
How could this man, from a culture on the other side of the globe, begin to comprehend my situation? At the age of twenty-four, the prospect of one day running a successful corporation outweighed almost any other consideration.
Few people I had met really enjoyed what they did for a living. Even fewer seemed to live out their dreams. It seemed I had forgotten my own dream in the lure of material wealth and social status.
As I continued to become more successful at the business, I noticed the stirring of impulses that I can only call Machiavellian. I began to value people in terms of how much they owned or how much power they wielded. I also fantasized how much I would one day control. It were as if a shadow self were gradually replacing the warmth toward others I remembered once feeling. There was also a sense that I was losing my youth, even though I was only twenty-four years old.
Making The Decision
A summer neared again, however my previous experiences with Adnan's Sufi training drew me to return to work with him. I planned to keep my job, but somehow arranged to take time off to go to the next workshop. Unfortunately, the choice wasn't going to be that simple. A few months before the next summer workshop was to begin, my father told me that he was arranging a loan which would enable me to buy the corporation from him.
From that moment, every day at work became torturous. Conflicting desires, one for wealth and status, the other to study with Adnan waged war in my poor, beleaguered brain. My new strength and confidence reminded me of how much I already owed to the Sufi work. Yet, it seemed foolish to walk away from the easy opportunity for success about to be handed over to me. Reason said to stay, but a deep, still voice within said to go.
One day, in the midst of my turmoil, I found myself sitting alone in my office starring blankly at the wall. I saw a road stretching out before me. The road forked in two directions. Following one path to the end, I saw myself as an old man, very rich, with tears on my face. I was weeping because I had passed up the opportunity for which my spirit really yearned.
Looking down the other path, I couldn't see anything except a misty cloud that obscured the road ahead. I knew without a doubt this was the path of the Sufi. I could see, too, that this path offered no promises. If I went this way, I would make my own destiny.
After months of agony, I took the irrevocable step and left my father's business forever. I couldn't find the courage to tell either of my parents to their faces, so I simply told them I was going on a vacation. Once safely away, I wrote them a letter explaining that I would not be back. My heart's desire had won out, but at what cost? I had turned my back on the parents who had raised me and cast away a fantastic opportunity that I was sure would never come again.
Both my parents were hurt and disappointed when they read my letter. My father put the business up for sale anyway and soon found another buyer. I wanted distance from the whole matter, so I left Texas to look for whatever work I could find in Colorado.
Shortly afterwards, the world oil glut instigated an economic crisis in the Houston area. Thousands lost their jobs. Some of my father's competitors folded, including the group who had bought his company. If I had stayed with the business, I would have probably lost everything.
Do What You Feel
Any job, regardless of how good it looks on the surface, is inherently insecure. Mysterious, unseen economic forces or natural disasters can quickly undermine the best of plans. Real security lies in knowing yourself.
Opportunities for starting your own business are plentiful if you are willing to do some homework. Of course, if you have a job that pays good money and you like it, there's no reason to make a change. You might be ready, however, when everything on the surface seems to be going well, but inside a small voice asks, "Is this all there is?"
Reprinted with permission. ©1994.
Published by Warm Snow Publishers.
Overcoming The 7 Devils That Ruin Success
by James Dillehay.
The author describes the powerful forces within us all that battle for ultimate control of our destiny. While Spirit brings love, fulfillment, and success. Its enemy, an animalistic force called the negative self, ruins happiness and achievement through seven devils of destruction. To ignore these forces invites perilous risk. Master them and they unite to become a genie from a magic lamp who serves you.
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About The Author
James Dillehay would have one day run his family's successful business. A teacher appeared, however, advising him to leave it. Trading fortune and security for the unknown, he escaped financial ruin, overcame a terrifying fear, and discovered an extraordinary inner strength and transformation. Learn more about the author at jamesdillehay.com/about/