Material success vs Spiritual success



I am a bit confused, Yogananda writes in The essence of self realization: Everyone who makes a sincere effort on the spiritual path will surely reach his goal. You cannot say that of worldly ambition. Not everyone can become a famous pianist, no matter how hard he tries.

Contrary to that in numerous books he writes that the powers of the mind are limitless and one can become whatever he wants if one makes up his mind. Isnt that a contradiction? With dynamic will can I become a fmaous pianis

—Chris, Germany


Dear Chris,

Good question! It’s a matter of timing. For starters: go ahead and try with dynamic will to become a famous pianist in this lifetime! Mozart composed his first musical composition at age five. This suggests the reality that it can take more than one life to accomplish a material goal and that doing so implies past life efforts. But, admittedly, the same is true of the spiritual path. Indeed, it takes far more effort (in time and lives) to achieve soul liberation than it does to become a famous pianist.

What Yogananda is really saying is that it is our own, true nature to be a child of God whereas becoming a famous pianist is an “add-on” and only applies to the surface of our consciousness; indeed, to our ego and with no relationship to our soul’s nature. We have been many things over many lifetimes and none of these touch our soul though some of them prod us in the direction of our innate omnipresence. It is good to strive for success for this bolsters our confidence, concentration and will power to achieve. Even a genius criminal has greater current potential to be a saint than a lazy person because success of every kind is based on energy. Material success eventually teaches us that it is never enough to satisfy our longing for happiness and love. In God alone can these be found.

In addition, though a minor point, Yogananda’s statement is that even if we don’t find total soul freedom in one life the very effort to walk the spiritual path brings satisfaction whereas the same cannot always be said of material goals which may take much more time and effort to achieve even just initial success.

Why not do both?

Nayaswami Hriman