Why does it seem like some people have all the luck? They have a harmonious family life, stable finances, a strong and healthy body, and a sharp intellect. We’d say that the cards of life are stacked in their favor.
The conditions mentioned above can be thought of as good luck—or good karma. But there’s another kind of fortune that spiritual aspirants value even more. And that is spiritual growth. You sense that spiritual practices like meditation are worth your time. Even if you doubt your ability to reach the ultimate goal of Self-realization in this lifetime, you know that you’re on your way.
What is a Spiritual Bank Balance?
When we turn to the spiritual path with enthusiasm, on our own, without formal training, it’s due to the merit of actions in previous lives. This natural tendency is a result of our spiritual bank balance.
To what degree have you experienced spiritual inclination? The range is enormous. You might have just a slight sense of “something other.” You might already be tasting from the spiritual smorgasbord, dipping into each path you cross and then moving on. If you commit to following one path or teacher over a long period of time, you’re most fortunate. But that fortune is not luck—it’s the effect of past actions.
I’d wager a guess that anyone now reading is interested in spiritual growth. Give yourself some credit—you share a common thread with the greatest spiritual giants ever known.
The Common Thread Among Self-Realized Beings
In previous posts I’ve shown the importance of keeping company with saints. But have you ever wondered how saints evolve into the saintly state? More importantly, have you considered how you might become a saint yourself?
In “The Benefits of Studying the Lives of Saints: Part I,” I said that very few holy men—or women—are born enlightened. Most of them started like us. They arrived under normal circumstances, went to school, and might have started family life. Some were born into royalty or wealth, others into poverty. Yet, when we examine their lives, we notice similarities.
Most notably, when saints and sages come into this world, they already have some degree of spiritual interest. Many were devoted to their family’s religion from a young age, before formal instruction. Others were drawn to spirituality outside their religion. In some cases, young saints-to-be were obsessed with the desire to realize their inner Self. They left their parent’s home at a young age to pursue their quest. With little or no support or prodding these souls sought their own spiritual growth.
This is the common thread among all spiritually inclined people. It’s an interest in the spiritual life or religion. Sometimes it manifests simply as a natural desire to be and do good.
Scriptures Support the Concept of Spiritual Growth
Great spiritual beings begin with an inherent interest in mysticism—they seek a relationship with the Divine. They’re all, to some degree, born with the desire to know God. You might be aware of this quality within yourself. Or you might simply be curious about its possibilities.
Yoga masters say that sincere interest in the spiritual life is the effect of one’s past effort towards spiritual growth. This principle is mentioned in scriptures, East and West:
“A man’s latent tendencies have been created by his past thoughts and actions. These tendencies will bear fruit, both in this life and in lives to come.” (Yoga Sutra III:12)
“Do not save riches here on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and robbers break in and steal. Instead, save riches in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are.” (The New Testament, Matthew 6:19-21)
We are born with a spiritual bank balance. It’s a result of our past actions and thoughts, and it’s extremely valuable. It’s the starting point for each of us in this lifetime.
Increasing Your Spiritual Growth
As Jesus said in the above New Testament quote, no one can steal your spiritual wealth. However, your spiritual growth can be affected each waking moment of your life—by you. Your thoughts and actions now are the only things that can diminish or increase it.
If you have a million dollars, would you tuck it away under your mattress for safekeeping? Of course not. It might get stolen, or a fire could burn it. You’d protect your wealth by putting it in a safe place and letting it earn interest. You would also increase your investment by adding to it.
It’s the same with our spiritual wealth. The safest place to store a spiritual bank balance is within a pure mind. Meditating every day and keeping good company purifies the mind. Good actions and a positive attitude are the ongoing investments that we make.
We know banks need security and safeguarding. Similarly, the purity of your mind needs vigilant protection from thieves and bad investments. Yoga scriptures and masters warn us:
“There are three gateways to the utter ruin of one’s soul: desire, anger, and greed. Therefore, one should renounce these three. The man who has escaped these three gates of darkness, and practices what is good for him attains the Supreme Goal.” (Bhagavad Gita 16:21-22)
Desire, anger, and greed are like big rocks that obstruct our spiritual journey. But there are less obvious factors that affect our spiritual growth. We squander our merit when we’re critical, unkind, or untruthful to others. All of these diminish the mind’s purity and make it more difficult to see the Divine in others and ourselves.
Our lives offer many distractions, so we need to make a firm commitment to our spiritual growth. And we must reaffirm that commitment daily. A helpful tool for this is The Five-Minute Journal (aff link). It’s a simple, quick, and easy way to stay on track.
Here’s a short list of suggestions to increase your spiritual bank balance:
- Meditate daily.
- Keep company with saints.
- Avoid bad company.
- Watch your mind.
- Repeat your mantra
- Think good thoughts and do good deeds.
You are reading this article and have continued to the end. This shows that you already have a spiritual bank balance. Please take a moment to share with others how you think you’ve come to this point by leaving a comment below.
Chityānanda has been a disciple of Svāmī Gurupremānanda Sarasvatī since 1975. She teaches meditation and yoga as a spiritual path in Santa Cruz, California.