In most people’s minds abundance and lack are opposites—it is obvious which countries are rich and poor. But even in a wealthy society, abundance meets troubling obstacles of economic and social inequality. The path to success is rocky for nearly everyone, and making more money doesn’t save you from feeling insecure inside. When you combine these factors with the prevailing belief that success depends on hard work, struggle, and fiercely competitive drive, the whole picture is gloomy and at best filled with risks.
I think that the picture is distorted. The secret to abundance lies within, and there is a path to it without struggle achievable by everyone. This is the path laid out in detail in my new book, Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth . It proposes an inner path that is completely compatible with spiritual growth and personal evolution. Let’s clear away at once the notion that spirituality is the opposite of material success.
The real issue has nothing to do with materialism versus spirituality. They meet on common ground in consciousness. All experience originates in consciousness, and our state of awareness has as much to do with how your life is going in worldly terms as in spiritual terms.
What you are seeking in any area of life is fulfillment, which can only be found “in here.” The goal, from the outset, is to create fulfillment from within. When success is defined by externals—how much money you make, the possessions you acquire, your status and power in your career—it is easy to believe that such success is granted to the few. But what if abundance is defined differently, as an inner state? What if the same inner state embraces fulfillment, success, and wealth as essentially the same thing?
If you turn within, you can be successful this very minute, because in reality success/fulfillment/abundance is a creative process, and you are engaged in it already. The process is something we live; it is not an end state we arrive at. The first step in creating success/fulfillment/abundance is to align yourself with the right choices. Some choices create a path to success, others block the path.
Right choices all focus on the same thing: the progressive realization of worthy goals. You might set a goal that takes months or years to achieve. Instead of being discouraging, this is a time span you embrace, because during those months or years you love what you’re doing. Your vision of a worthy goal makes it much easier to respond to setbacks and crises, which are normal on the path to any worthy goal. You aren’t crushed by external setbacks because your goal comes from within. To live by your own ideals is to own something precious that no one can take form you.
What is your worthy goal going to be? This is a unique and weighty decision. You don’t have to decide once and for all. Your goal can and should evolve. The key to finding a goal that will sustain you for a long time is to be self-aware. Success is tied to knowing who you are and what you are here to do. No one is capable of being all things. In India, the one pursuit that will allow you to thrive in your life is known as Dharma. Dharma comes from a root word that means “to uphold.” If you are in your Dharma, the universe will uphold you. Since universe is a big word, Dharma can be broken down into smaller compartments.
Let’s do that now. Pick your worthy goal. Among the worthy goals that may inspire you are the following:
Love and compassion for all.
Bringing peace and reducing violence.
Improving education to decrease ignorance and lack of knowledge.
Protecting the weak and dispossessed.
Promoting culture and tradition.
Exploration and discovery.
Being of service without judgment of others.
Choose a goal, without worrying that it must be permanent. Sit quietly and center yourself. Take a few deep breaths. Now, in your calm, centered state, reflect on the goal you want to achieve. Let’s say that you want to be of service. Reflect on the following questions.
Am I already living my goal, even if it only occupies part of my time?
Is this activity really enjoyable to me?
Does sit come easily and naturally?
Does it energize me rather than taking away my energy?
Does it make me feel more like the person I want to be?
Am I in the right situation to keep pursuing my goal?
Do I have a sense that this activity is allowing me to grow?
These seven questions are critical for finding your avenue of greatest success, your Dharma. When you can answer yes to them, you are perfectly on your path of success/fulfillment/abundance. There are other things to learn and more skills to perfect, but you have done something invaluable: You have made inner abundance a living reality, an activity that will allow you to thrive today and tomorrow, not some distant day in the future.
In a word, abundance is truly defined by the bliss it brings you, and there is no reason to postpone bliss when you can find it this very minute.
Reprinted from San Francisco Chronicle with permission
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