Abdul Kalam

Quotes from the book Wings of Fire: An Autobiography of Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam.

I wonder why some people tend to see science as something which takes man away from God. As I look at it, the path of science can always wind through the heart. For me, science has always been the path to spiritual enrichment and self-realisation.

The best way to win was to not need to win. The best performances are accomplished when you are relaxed and free of doubt.

One of the important functions of prayer, I believe, is to act as a stimulus to creative ideas. Within the mind are all the resources required for successful living. Ideas are present in the consciousness, which when released and given scope to grow and take shape, can lead to successful events. God, our Creator, has stored within our minds and personalities, great potential strength and ability. Prayer helps to tap and develop these powers.

I have always been a religious person in the sense that I maintain a working partnership with God. I was aware that the best work required more ability than I possessed and therefore I needed help that only God could give me. I made a true estimate of my own ability, then raised it by 50 per cent and put myself in God’s hands. In this partnership, I have always received all the power I needed, and in fact have actually felt it flowing through me. Today, I can affirm that the kingdom of God is within you in the form of this power, to help achieve your goals and realise your dreams.

I have used the word ‘flow’ at many places without really elaborating its meaning. What is this flow? And what are these joys? I could call them moments of magic. I see an anology between these moments and the high that you experience when you play badminton or go jogging. Flow is a sensation we experience when we act with total involvement. During flow, action follows action according to an internal logic that seems to need no conscious intervention on the part of the worker. There is no hurry, there are no distracting demands on one’s attention. The past and the future disappear. So does the distinction between self and the activity.

I have always considered the price of perfection prohibitive and allowed mistakes as a part of the learning process. I prefer a dash of daring and persistence to perfection.

To succeed in your mission, you must have single-minded devotion to your goal. Individuals like myself are often called ‘workaholics’. I question this term because that implies a pathological condition or an illness. If I do what I desire more than anything else in the world and which makes me happy, such work can never be an aberration. Words from the twenty-sixth Psalm come to my mind while I work: “Examine me, O Lord, and prove me.”

Total commitment is the common denominator among all successful men and women.

Happiness, satisfaction, and success in life depend on making the right choices, the winning choices. There are forces in life working for you and against you. One must distinguish the beneficial forces from the malevolent ones and choose correctly between them.

“God can do tremendous things through the person who doesn’t care about who gets the credit. Ego involvement must go,” writes [Robert] Schuller. “Before God trusts you with success, you have to prove yourself humble enough to handle the big prize.”

It has been my personal experience that the true flavour, the real fun, the continuous excitement of work lie in the process of doing it rather than in having it over and done with.

A person with belief never grovels before anyone, whining and whimpering that it’s all too much, that he lacks support, that he is being treated unfairly. Instead, such a person tackles problems head on and then affirms, ‘As a child of God, I am greater than anything that can happen to me.’

Looking back on my days as a young scientist, I am aware that one of the most constant and powerful urges I experienced was my desire to be more than what I was at that moment. I desired to feel more, learn more, express more. I desired to grow, improve, purify, expand. I never used any outside influence to advance my career. All I had was the inner urge to seek more within myself. The key to my motivation has always been to look at how far I had still to go rather than how far I had come. After all, what is life but a mixture of unsolved problems, ambiguous victories, and amorphous defeats?

The trouble is that we often merely analyse life instead of dealing with it. People dissect their failures for causes and effects, but seldom deal with them and gain experience to master them and thereby avoid their recurrence. This is my belief: that through difficulties and problems God gives us the opportunity to grow. So when your hopes and dreams and goals are dashed, search among the wreckage, you may find a golden opportunity hidden in the ruins.

Great dreams of great dreamers are always transcended.

Are you aware of your inner signals? Do you trust them? Do you have the focus of control over your life in your own hands? Take this from me, the more decisions you can make avoiding external pressures, which will constantly try to manipulate and immobilise you, the better your life will be, the better your society will become. The entire nation will benifit from having strong, inner-directed people as their leaders.

Life is a difficult game. You can win it only by retaining your birthright to be a person. And to retain this right, you will have to be willing to take the social or external risks involved in ignoring pressures to do things the way others say they should be done.

God’s providence is your inheritance.