Can I Be Spiritual and Financially Successful?


My question might be a regular one. In fact I don’t know where to begin.

1. Can spirituality and acquiring worldly knowledge go hand in hand?

2. I care about my parents, I want to take care of them which takes money. So I run for money. But spirituality says money is hindrance. On other hand you need it for others. It’s confusing. Money, God, relatives, ambition… it just confuses me. How can i balance all these and yet continue on spiritual path?

—Shantanu, India


Dear Shantanu,

There is nothing unspiritual about money or about moneymaking. What is unspiritual is greed for money to fulfil our worldly desires, feeding our lower self. Money itself is just energy.

Yogananda’s most highly advanced disciple was a millionaire. God watches the heart, not the wallet. So yes, spirituality and moneymaking can go hand in hand.

Moneymaking for your parents, if they are in need, is a spiritual act. In that case you are not really running for money, but for their wellbeing. You are running a race of love. Go for it.

Yogananda teaches laws of prosperity, how to successfully make money, but also tells us that it has to be done with the right spirit: “Your moneymaking methods, however, must be made within the boundaries of your ideals. Otherwise you may have money but not happiness. Happiness is only possible when the desire for making money cannot lure you to travel on the wrong path.”

He also teaches: “The main purpose of business should be service. It should not be entirely money-making. The store that gives the best service and the best products is the one that we like. Just remember that you must serve to make others happy.”

For this reason Swami Kriyananda has written an entire course of “Material Success Through Yoga Principles.” You may find it inspiring to study it.

He himself found out that moneymaking can actually be quite helpful, teaching us needed qualities: “It was a surprise to me, and a great reassurance, to come upon two statements by Paramhansa Yogananda on the spiritual aspects of moneymaking. The first of these was a promise he’d made to a student of his to the effect that, by helping his mission monetarily, the student would make more rapid spiritual advancement. The second statement was more general: “Making money honestly and industriously to serve God’s work is the next greatest art after the art of realizing God.” Whereas I used to look upon money-making as a rather sordid necessity of life, I’ve come to see the need for it as a great spiritual opportunity. Indeed, as I said earlier, my greatest gain from undertaking this project was the spiritual power, the faith, the will power and energy that this service gave me.”

The same holds true for acquiring worldly knowledge. The question is, why do you want to acquire it? What is your heart’s motivation behind it? To do a good or necessary thing (such as supporting your family)? Or to use it to hoard money for your personal desires and pleasure?

In short: as long as you keep developing your inner life, your inner relationship with God, and as long as your ideals remain good and pure as you earn money, you are stable on the spiritual path, even if you should become the richest man in the world. Again: God watches the heart.

All the best to your heart,