What is Success? - A spiritual perspective

Submitted by Trinity on Thu, 04/18/2013 - 06:10

What ‘success’ means is unique and personal to each of us. Yet most of us still live in a society where success is determined by what ‘people out there’ have decided success is. In fact, an inward feeling (often hidden) of 'not feeling good enough’ because of ‘what other people will think’ is one of the most common concerns that I see amongst awakening people. Personal worth is still frequently measured by what we have to show for what we’ve done - material goods, exams passed, property gained, certificates achieved, goals attained or targets reached. And by far the biggest determining factor of success is the degree to which a person is validated and approved by others.

If you don’t fall under any of these categories, then you are blessed!

The traditional success model is so deeply embedded in the collective human psyche, that it can be incredibly difficult to shake off - even for awakening souls. It's like one of those stubborn stains that just won’t go away, no matter how hard you scrub.

As the soul begins to awaken, it is inevitable that sooner or later, we'll find dissatisfaction with all of that traditional achievement stuff. It’s like no measure of external success can quench the thirst of the soul. Success becomes about how much you have really found ‘you’, unveiled your soul, and embrace it.

Most people who dig deeper, feel a yearning to do what brings them joy and really serve a deeper purpose; and then find that inner peace can not be found by the typical models of 'gain' and 'achievement' that society would have you believe are essential for success as a human being.

Soul versus the world

I’ve lost count of the times where I’ve seen people beginning to find what stirs their soul, only to be dissuaded by the disapproving comments from those around them:

    ‘how is that going to help you in life?’
    ‘how are you going to earn a living from that?’
    ‘how are you going to maintain our life style?'
    ‘what do you hope to achieve from this?’
    ‘tell me how you can justify your choices?'
    'what has gotten in to you?'
    'have you gone mad?'

These comments are usually fear based, neither trusting, nor embracing evolutionary change. Furthermore, when someone is first waking up, it is often difficult to answer these questions, because soul led living is hard to define in traditional matrix based terms. It’s so boundless and without limitation.

Sadly, those who challenge these choices, with their seemingly 'fully justified' cross examinations, often have the upper hand. It's hardly surprising really - they basically have the weight of the entire matrix of mass conditioning behind them.

So you might doubt yourself. You might even question your sanity and wonder if you are going crazy. In fact, to make things exponentially worse, if your shift is radical or they feel really destabilised by the ‘new’ you, then those around you, might even question your sanity too. Your entire world can start to crumble at the thought they might be right. Whether it's true or not, it's this kind of judgement that will often make people resort to the safe comfort zone, preferring the nagging feeling of discontentment to leaping into the unknown.

Being 'you' in the face of opposition is the biggest hurdle to over come. If you get over that one, then the universe knows you are serious about liberating the soul; so it will conspire to support you - but not until you have taken that leap of faith.

The truth is, that sometimes, when we follow the soul, it inspires change in those around us too. More often than not, others want to stay with what is familiar instead. We don’t get to decide who comes and who goes. We can only be authentic to ourselves. In fact the only thing we get to choose is whether or not we live inspired by the soul or whether we don’t.

Not for the fainthearted

A word of warning! Honouring what stirs your soul is not for the fainthearted. It’s for the bold and courageous amongst us; those who dare to be ourselves in the face of disapproval and even attack! It’s for those of us who trust that when we take a leap of faith into the unknown, that the universe will rise to meet us, in which ever way needed, so that we can serve our divinely given purpose. It’s for those of us who are ready to walk the spiritual path.

I am here to say that not only is it OK to listen to your soul, but if you want spiritual ‘success’, then it is crucial.

Spiritual success is unveiling the soul

    Success is about being authentic and unveiling the soul.
    It’s the degree to which we embrace the spiritual path.
    It is measured by the degree to which you have surrendered to,
    and are able to trust the guidance of your soul.

It becomes much more of an inner journey of wealth; an inner sense of self satisfaction determined by the degree to which we have responded to the calling of our soul. It will reflect in the outside world in an myriad of different ways. There is no right or wrong. You’ll get exactly what you need to fulfill the soul’s purpose. It might equally mean that you live in a palace or a mud hut. It might mean that at times you are gifted an abundance of material goods and other times you are called to forage, ‘make do’, gather food, make things yourself. It’s about being attached to none of it. It’s about trusting that you are being exactly what you are given to be exactly who you need to be.

What do others have to say?

I am always fascinated to see what others who have clearly touched the soul have to say. Here are some inspiring quotes...

Viktor Frankl was an Auschwitz survivor, and said that success is not to chase, but, instead to allow it to unfold as a by-product of following your inner guidance and intuition...

    "Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run - in the long-run, I say! Success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it."

Enlightenment is found through that which is beyond the material world, through that which is in the depths of our heart...

    "The ideals which have lighted me on my way and time after time given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. . . The ordinary objects of human endeavour - property, outward success, luxury - have always seemed to me contemptible."
    Albert Einstein

Only do that which stirs your soul...

    "Success is not the key to happiness.
    Happiness is the key to success.
    If you love what you are doing,
    you will be successful."

    Albert Schweitzer

To remember the enormous value in 'the little ordinary moments' that often offer our greatest spiritual growth...

    "I long to accomplish a great and noble tasks,
    but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as
    though they were great and noble.
    The world is moved along,
    not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes,
    but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker."

    Helen Keller

Heaven is within - let it shine...

    "Your living is determined not so much
    by what life brings to you as by the
    attitude you bring to life;
    not so much by what happens to you as
    by the way your mind looks at what happens.

    Kahlil Gibran

Being exactly who you are

You ARE enough! Exactly as you are.

So, what does success mean to you?

Soul to Soul

Related pages:
Gift of Beingness...unveiling You
20 seconds of insane courage...To change your life forever
How to flow with the torrents...Chuang Tzu's swimmer story

13555 Reads


A successful piece of work Trin!

I especially resonate and love the part about: "It might equally mean that you live in a palace or a mud hut." I find this happening to me all the time!

My natural inclination is to the humble 'mud hut' - especially when travelling. But also, sometimes, for no immediate surface level reason, I'll be guided to slightly more 'opulent' circumstances - as long as it is aligned. I always find there's a deeper reason - like when I stayed at "La Portal" in Sedona. It was quite expensive for me, but the energy was wonderful and the next evening I was able to balance the cost by sleeping out under the stars.

Going with the Ebb and flow is so important for spiritual success.


I was on facebook just a few days ago, and I noticed that a good friend of mine from a while back, had just had a promotion to a director position for the company he works for. Initially I thought wow, good for him, and then my own self doubt kicked in and I started to try and justify to myself where I am now in comparison to him. As though because he is a director he is somehow doing 'better' than me and is more 'successful'.
I guess I still carry the conditioning of measuring external accomplishments as a measure of success, and with that self worth.
When I really contemplate success, to me it is about being truly authentic. Dotting every eye and crossing every t of an authentic soul led life. I'm not talking about being perfect, but having the courage to be you, no matter what the consequences. I have seen the sense of freedom and liberation in people who come from this place, and I can't think of any other way to be more successful.

Thanks for the article

The quote "it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble." is so beautiful and inspiring, that I shall have to give you a virtual hug ((hugg))

What is spiritual success? I don't know but I keep asking this question "Why should I go and be happy about stuff?" According to Ask Teal, being happy means you are following the guidance of your higher self and this facilitates the expansion of the universe.

And to stand true to it self, this mind asks "Why do I have to facilitate the expansion of the universe?" But this time it itself answears it's own self "Because the being we are all a part of, is currently breathing in and will do so for the next ~10^40 years" It shall be time before this mind proves (or disproves) this idea in it's own head, but after all this pointless bickering it gives the output of:

spiritual success = true happiness

Trinity, I really can't say how much this article means to me. As usual with Openhand, the exact article has come along at the very moment it's needed in my life (I'm almost starting to get used to it now!).
There's lots I could say on this topic (as I'm mid-leap in my life at the moment and have been experiencing all the things you talk about)but I just wanted to share a simple little technique I found helpful -
At the times when I'm feeling very strong and full of faith and passion, I make a list of all the reasons why I'm doing what I'm doing - i.e. "To be closer to nature", "To have more freedom", "To make time for spiritual practice" etc. Then when I go into the fear-based mind-frame, when I'm having doubt and questioning my sanity, I can look at the list of reasons and even my intellect thinks "well I can't really argue with that". So even though on the surface I may feel scared, deep down i know it's right and it's something that worth being brave for.
Many thanks

Thank you for sharing that Holly.
You are welcome. I pleased to know that it struck a chord!

To find the balance you want you must keep your feet grounded so firmly on the earth that its's like you have four legs,instead of two.That way you can stay in the world.But you must stop looking the world through your head.You must look through your heart,instead.That way,you will know God.
This is from the book I was reading "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I feel I have been following my heart,specially for last two years since I have been awakened.I find more people attracted to me than before.Sometimes I have to be very careful so that guys do not take it in a wrong way.I do not know how to deal with this at times...I do not want to get into trouble.I am just following my heart and bringing happiness to others.Some people are even curious to know how come I am so free and why I look so happy all the time.I do not want to tell anyone what happened as they will feel I am crazy.I am hiding my sadness at times because I want to look happy everyday.
I need people who are spiritually awakened around me to keep my journey going.Are you guys going to come to NZ at any stage or are there any other places in NZ having similar kind of retreats.
I have to struggle at times when I am with people who are always talking about success in job,wealth,material things .....and I see myself nowhere.....
Everyday I get up with a smile and try to make most of it.

In reply to by vimbha

Yes, meeting awakened people is a wonderfully joyous experience but atleast enough information has flowed through so that our minds can touch.

I would recommend looking for a local buddist group, because I go to a local diamond way buddist centre and the people there are a happy bunch that follow the teachings of compassion, kindness & peace as given by the buddha. We drink tea and eat cookies for about 30 mins, and then meditate for 30mins, and then drink more tea. They have a branch in NZ aswell http://www.buddhism.org.nz/

Also there are groups that are very monkish like and more millitant about it. I think you'd want a group that's relaxed and just happy, not tries to refrain from addictions like a shaolin monk. Look through your heart and you'll know which one...

I wish you Love & Peace,

Thanks Rayko.
I have been to Diamond once and also listened to talk by someone from Poland....do not remember the name.I loved it and am looking forward for more.
At the moment I sometimes go to Shambala Budhist Centre.
Would like to go to retreat sometime.

Thanks Rayko you made my day and I am feeling energic now....keep in touch.


Hi chris,

Openhand has given me new opening and I will never ever going to let this spiritual awakening die and always try to be in touch with people here.

Many thanks

A very beautiful writing, thank you. I have had this concept reflected quite brightly over the past couple months in a few different lights. One example is when my older son decided he didnt want to finish school only 1.5 credits shy. I did try to persuade him but I felt his resolve and ensuing relief in not having to be in that environment ever again. While I honor his experience there was this ignition of energy that consumed as I faced the fact that we had travelled for 15yrs together down this path and there we were...at the "finish line" when his last step dropped before crossing. I felt some sorrow as I could not encourage him to change his heart which seems quite ironic to write that I should even try! Another reflection as I learn to walk in balance with his soul as we bounce off eachother leaving impressions. The ensuing conversations that we shared were truly beautiful as I saw how keenly he is in tuned with his experience and the level of trust he has as he sees no need to validate his life in the conditioned traditional sense. He stated, "Mom (while pointing his hands in one direction) this is the way everyone else is going, not me Mom, I'm different its how MY mind thinks and I go this way..." There are many great moments that have come through as he shares with me which I so greatly appreciate given the reality many parents have to experience with their children.

Now back to the concept of "success"..While I fully embrace his authentic experience and plant seeds to hopefully guide his growth as he travels his own path, its difficult at times to be a buffer in a sense between allowing his experiences to give in precise moments when it is so easy for many to place judgements upon him. My "family" stood on soap boxes and shouted how I should have responded, should have pushed, should have insisted, should have tortured him in some way with consequences, should have should have should have....

It continued to so clearly illustrate how conditioned so many are by these projected concepts of success. So much more value is given to jumping through these hoops mindlessly successfully timely, efficiently than on those who find no value in those actions but actually feel a heaviness while participating within the constrains of those defined actions that offer some sort of perceived prize or monetary reward that has no meaning on some level. (mostly to the soul)

It truly is a grand journey and finding a healthy balance amongst perceived roles is challenging yet its approaching it with ease that enables much. Then the thought ensues...is he reflecting me? There is a brief tinge of guilt as i do not intend to alter yet I see that he is doing what truly feels good to him he is light again. "Being 'you' in the face of opposition is the biggest hurdle to over come. If you get over that one, then the universe knows you are serious about liberating the soul; so it will conspire to support you - but not until you have taken that leap of faith." This seems to sum it up! Would rather him conquer this hurdle with his eyes open than cross the finish line with his eyes closed. Glorious days!!