Delightful Spring

Swami Yogatirthananda Saraswati, Switzerland

Delightful Spring, whose Japanese name is haru-urara, is Japan’s most popular racing horse. A thoroughbred mare, she has lost a hundred out of a hundred races. Her present trainer says that she is “small, weak, neurotic and afraid of other horses”. And yet thousands flock to see her. The unbeatable loser is a star! Delightful Spring gets letters from her fans, bags full of carrots, and T-shirts with her picture are for sale. Having to deal with economic insecurity, the Japanese people identify with this horse who is living one of the cardinal virtues of their culture – gambaru – ‘not giving up’, ‘continuing’, ‘going-on’. The world knows only the best and the most beautiful; no thought is wasted on the runner-up, the loser. Stars are being cloned, success is tailor-made. And yet – Delightful Spring is able to inspire and encourage the Japanese people in their everyday life, showing them the value of gambaru, ‘not giving up’.

In yoga the notion of success and failure is irrelevant. It is the effort that counts. Yoga is discipline, and discipline is making a full-hearted effort. Lakshmana, in his effort to console Rama, said, “There is nothing as great as constant striving.” Delightful Spring finishes each and every one of her races. The essence of discipline is to do what has to be done. It is the trainer who chooses the duty and the race. No matter if the race is karma yoga in the office, peeling potatoes, running a business or yoga centre, no matter if the race is asana, meditation, study, chanting or living the everyday life in the spirit of yoga. As long as the race is on – gambaru, ‘not giving up’! . . . and it is the trainer who fixes the number of laps.

Thinking of success and failure, toying with results, the ‘fruits of our action’ or seeking recognition – all this stands in the way of gambaru, and in the way of yoga. Delightful Spring is free of expectations and so is a yogi. Swami Satyananda has dedicated a whole poem to gambaru, a poem full of inspiration and encouragement – to be a yogi and Delightful Spring.

Success is Failure

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will
And the road you’re treading seems all uphill,
When funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile but you’re forced to sigh,
When cares are pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you feel like it but do not quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us always learns,
And often failure comes about
When we might have won had we stuck it out.
So don’t give up when you’re feeling low,
You’re bound to succeed with another blow.
Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
So stick to this fight when you’re hardest hit,
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
The answer is near but it seems so far,
The night may be long with no glimpse of a star,
But there’s a sure way out of this endless plight,
Reach up now and turn on the light.