by Bernie Siegel, MD
When asked to write an article about how to measure success in your spiritual life the answer seemed obvious. If you have been asked to be an outside consultant to the Board of Directors of Heaven, as I have, then you have made it. Let me share with you some of what I have learned at various board meetings in this article and help you on your path to success in the spiritual world.
I meet many young men and women from well to do families who’s lives are spiritual wrecks because their family defines success as accumulating more and more material things. When a young man walked into my office and said, “My father ruined my life.”
I asked him what he did to ruin it and he answered, “He gave me a million dollars when I was twenty one.” I told him there were many people in the waiting room who would love his problem. I asked, “How did it ruin your life?” “I had to be a success.”
He came to understand that being a success does not make you happy and he needed to learn that being happy makes you a success. When you seek security, while fearing challenges, you will not find peace on a mental or spiritual level because you will never find your authentic life or way of serving your love to the world. The entire reason for life is so that we can experience love. That is my opinion. And when you experience love you are a spiritual success.
The imperfect world is what makes our love necessary and meaningful. To quote God, “A perfect world is a magic trick and not creation. You are here to live and learn. Just as there is no darkness or cold there is no true evil. Darkness is simply an absence of light while cold is an absence of heat and evil is the failure to express my love through your actions. Just as a graduation is a commencement, and not a termination, and the Bible ends in a revelation and not a conclusion your life is about beginnings. When you experience change, be it loss or gain, you must begin to use the change to redirect your life and create something new that will benefit the world and its inhabitants, all of whom are the same color inside and so of one family, and continue the process of creation.”
Now compare the young man’s problem spiritual problem, I mentioned earlier, with mine. One of our sons called me and asked for money to pay his college tuition bill. I reminded him that when my father died he received $60,000 from my father’s estate for him to use for towards education. He responded, “I gave it to a friend I met in Nepal so he could come to this country for an education and then go home and help his people.” Now which son would you prefer? The one who turns a million into many millions or the son who gave away $60,000 and is asking you for money?
At the time of the phone call I wasn’t so enlightened but I have learned from this son about how to be a spiritual success. He used what he had to help others to survive and thrive. The message is that we are here to offer our bodies and our property to benefit others. Only then do we become a spiritual success and immortal in the only way one can become immortal, through love, which is the only thing of permanence.
Think what would have happened if the young man had started a new charity with his million dollars. Would his father have said to him that he was a dumbbell throwing his money away or praised him? My father’s father died when he was twelve and he said the family’s problems taught him that money was to make life easier for people and not something to simply accumulate and he spent his life living the message.
Remember dear old Joseph Campbell’s words, “You climb the ladder of success and when you get to the top you find it’s leaning against the wrong wall.” Well when you climb the true spiritual ladder of success you can call yourself successful if when you get to the top you find you’re in Heaven.
Remember the age old message. The son of man comes not to be served but to serve and to ransom his life for the good of the many. How you serve is your choice and not to be imposed by others because he who seeks to save his life will lose it doing what others want but he who is willing to lose his life and let the untrue self die will save his life. How do you know how to do it? By doing what feels right and makes you happy and not what you think is the right thing to do. If you do not bring forth what is within you it will destroy you while if you bring forth what is within you it will save you.
Now live the message. Become a spiritual success and get on the board.