Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner (Q): Does self-improvement lead to worldly success?
Acharya Prashant (AP): The same self that you are seeking to improve, thereby admitting that it’s in need of improvement and is therefore currently flawed, is the one that determines your ideal of success. From where does your thought or ideal of success come? The self, isn’t it? And at the same time, you are saying the self needs improvement. Which means the self is not fit enough to determine targets for you. It’s like going to the GPS repair shop because you know your GPS is faulty and using your faulty GPS, to know the route to the GPS shop.
Who is giving you your concept of success? The self that you are admitting is in need of improvement; which means even your concept of success is faulty. So, self-improvement will not give you success. If you see that the self is misplaced or flawed then self-improvement in itself is the success, because that’s the mother of all failures. Who determines your success or failure? The self, meaning the little Ego determines that. The little Ego is the one that sets your targets, it then certifies if you succeeded or failed. Who does all these things? The little self, so are your successes, really your successes?
Your GPS might be telling you that you have reached Taj Mahal. According to GPS, “Success! Taj Mahal arrived”, and you look up and what do you find? Is this Taj Mahal? But, the GPS is yelling, “Success! Success!” Ego is saying, “Success! Success!” And life, facts are telling you it’s a disaster. Similarly, the GPS might tell you that the Taj Mahal is still 100 miles away and you look up and find you are right in front of the Taj Mahal.
So, the successes that the little self certifies are not success at all. The failures that the little self cries about are not failures at all. Therefore the only failure is to live by a faulty GPS because if you live by a faulty GPS, not one but all your destinations will be wrong. So what is the only success then? Fixing the GPS is the real success. Self-improvement will not get success, self-improvement is success. If the self has corrected itself, then whatever it does now will be right and that is success.