The greatest mistake people make is to belittle their own power to change themselves. My guru taught us that the greatest of all sins is to call oneself a sinner, for it identifies one with sin, or error. So hypnotized, one becomes the helpless slave of delusion. No matter how often one fails, he should keep on trying to improve, remembering what Yoganandaji also said: “A saint is a sinner who never gave up.” The very season of failure, he further taught us, is the best season for sowing the seeds of success, if we direct the energy awakened by our remorse, not toward self-abuse, but toward reinforcing our determination to do better next time. As with my experience in trying at first unsuccessfully to give up smoking [when a young man], every time I went back to the habit I did so, not with a consciousness of failure, but with the thought, “Well, I haven’t yet won, but maybe next time I will.” In this way I strengthened my will ultimately to succeed, instead of allowing every failure to reinforce my self-hypnosis of weakness.