In our culture we tend to equate prosperity with possessions, and especially with money. If we have money we’re considered prosperous, and if we don’t we aren’t. This viewpoint is far from the truth. True prosperity and spiritual enlightenment are one and the same. So long as we are not enlightened, we are not truly prosperous in the way God intended.
True prosperity begins with the understanding that we are children of God, and that everything God has we have. To realize that truth, we need to bring all of our thoughts and actions into attunement with the will of God. Once we have that attunement, and the understanding that His abundance is our abundance, we will generate a flow of energy that creates the magnetism to attract to ourselves whatever we need.
When I (Jyotish) first met Swami Kriyananda in 1966, Ananda consisted solely of his one-bedroom, rented apartment in San Francisco. Kriyananda was then teaching classes around the Bay Area. Gradually he drew people to his classes, and with the money he earned, he bought the first land for Ananda. He did those things only because he wanted to do the will of God, and most especially the will of his guru. Today Ananda is a thriving worldwide movement, but it started from the efforts of one man who had complete devotion and dedication to God and Guru, and the strong desire to share his guru’s teachings with others.
A positive form of contentment
Contentment and prosperity are related. If we are constantly discontented, we will never be prosperous. Especially in the West, contentment is often viewed as a kind of passive acceptance that we’ve achieved all we’re ever going to achieve in life. But there’s a more positive form of contentment, based on the understanding that our life situations are drawn to us by our karma, and that through our karma God is giving us exactly what we need.
Money and possessions won’t give us contentment. A few years ago there was an article about the large percentage of mega–lottery winners whose lives were unhappy. In many instances, the influx of millions of dollars ruined their lives. Yet we’ve seen yogis in India with no possessions whatsoever but who were like kings because they lived with a dignity, poise, and contentment that came from being in attunement with the will of God.
We may find ourselves in positions where money is taken away from us. Winning the lottery or losing our fortune are equally neutral circumstances, and come to us for our own spiritual good. Understood in this way, contentment means to be accepting of where we are in life at any given moment.
Everything is consciousness. The power of thought, rightly focused through affirmation, visualization, and prayer, and backed up by a deep faith in the truth of what we believe, imparts tremendous energy. If we can convince the mind that we are children of God and that we have the power to draw whatever we need, that truth will be manifested in our lives. We will have everything we need.
Step One: Eliminate self-negating energy
What are some of the practical steps we can take to draw greater abundance into our lives? First and foremost, we need to get rid of any thought that says, “I won’t put out the effort,” or, “I’m tired,” or, “I can’t do it.” We were sometimes present when Swami Kriyananda counseled devotees. Often, when he would counsel people to move in a more positive direction, a number of them would respond, “I know what you’re telling me is correct, but it’s difficult for me to do that.” That kind of self-negating phrase, “but it’s difficult,” blocks the energy flow.
If we want to draw a powerful flow of energy that will create a magnetic field around us to attract whatever we need, our thoughts need to be positive. The most powerful thought of all is this: “I am a child of God, and everything that He has, I have.”
Step Two: Identify chronic patterns of defeat
Introspection is a powerful tool which Paramhansa Yogananda encouraged us to use. Look at chronic patterns of defeat in your life. Are you inattentive to details? Are you careless? Maybe your energy is strong at the beginning of an undertaking, but you lose energy and don’t complete the project. Maybe you are burdened by self-doubt. You think, “I’m not good enough. I can’t do this. Meditation may work for everybody else, but not for me.”
Some people have difficult money karma. Are you afraid of moving forward financially? If so, try to find within yourself the subconscious thought patterns that are causing the difficulty with money.
Often, when counseling someone who had a sense of always failing, Swami Kriyananda would give that person a small project at which he or she would succeed. This is something we can also do on our own. Once we’ve identified patterns of defeat in our subconscious minds, we can then set realistic goals that will give us the confidence that we can break those self-defeating patterns.
Step Three: Take responsibility for your actions
People sometimes ask how they can strike the right balance between trusting in God’s abundance and taking responsibility for limited personal finances. There has to be balance. One of Yogananda’s disciples was a reckless driver and excused it by saying, “Well, Master will take care of me.” When Yogananda heard about her statement, he said, “Of all things! Let her drive her car off a cliff and see whether I, or the Lord Himself, will protect her from the consequences of her folly!”
We have to take personal responsibility for our actions. Yes, we need to trust God, but we also need to work on feeling His power and energy flowing through us. The more we feel His energy flowing through us, the more confident we become in the choices we make in life.
Step Four: Destroy negative subconscious seed thoughts
In our subconscious mind there are often seeds of lack, need, failure, and perhaps even of guilt about having material possessions, stemming from previous lifetimes. The superconscious mind is that level of awareness on which we understand that we are one with God, the source of all abundance. When we meditate and bring our awareness to the point between the eyebrows, we access the superconscious mind and begin to cauterize those subconscious seed thoughts.
The more we meditate and cauterize those seed thoughts, the more we experience the awareness that we are one with God, and the more we experience also a sense of contentment. Meditation brings a deepening attunement with God, and attunement brings contentment.
Step Five: The faith to take your next step
God set up this world to have a sense of limitation. All the way down to the smallest animals there’s a need for food, for territory, for many things. The challenge to us spiritually is to overcome the sense of limitation. An important aspect of doing so involves having enough faith to take the next step.
If we’re having trouble with money, it’s not a sign that God is displeased or that we’re not in tune. Often it’s a sign that we’re ready to overcome some flaw. Swami Kriyananda said we should be grateful when we become aware of a flaw. It’s always been there. Now that we’re aware of it, we can do something about it.
If we want to have abundance in our lives, we also need to look for ways that we can forget ourselves and feel part of a greater whole. Devotion to God is an important aspect of self-forgetfulness but so also is a commitment to serving humanity. We need to find ways in which we can share abundance with others, perhaps through such practices as donating money or tithing. On a more individual level, we should look for people who are in need and then go out of our way to help them.
We also need to develop a sense of non-attachment and inner freedom. God has given us certain responsibilities, and we need to discharge them with the attitude that we are doing so for God, without thinking about how we might benefit.
Characteristics of prosperous people
Someone once asked us, “What are the characteristics of prosperous people?” The main characteristics are three: a high level energy, focus of concentration, and faith – not necessarily faith in God but faith in some kind of positive power in the universe.
We have a friend who has had a checkered career in the sense of having had quite a few different jobs. Once, when he had a very high-income job in the computer industry, he was asked what he would do if he lost his job. He said, “Oh, I wouldn’t mind. I’m like a cat. I’ll just land on my feet.”
That kind of positive attitude is also one of the hallmarks of someone who attracts abundance.
True abundance is living in the consciousness that everything we need will come to us. If we see abundance and prosperity not in terms of what we’ve gained or lost, but as a flow of grace, then we will never be without.