How can we develop both materially and spiritually?
We may fear, “If we become too spiritually serious, that will undermine our material prospects. Conversely, if we become too materially ambitious, that will undermine our spiritual prospects.”
Fortunately, the Bhagavad-gita offers a middle way: a socially-engaged spirituality that harmonizes inner devotional remembrance with outer material performance (08.07). The fruit of this middle way is exemplified by Arjuna’s holistic self-development: he was both a superlative spiritualist and a superlative archer.
Gita wisdom acknowledges that our present existence has two sides: our spiritual side is our soul, the essence of who we are; and our material side is our body, the vehicle we constantly work with. We develop our material side by actualization and our spiritual side by realization. Here’s how.
Self-actualization: To actualize is to make the potential actual. We all have talents that need to be nurtured through training and practice till they enable us to do something tangible. We don’t all have the same talents; so our contributions will vary. Still, we all can do justice to whatever gifts we have been given. When we commit ourselves to material development, we become all that we are meant to be.
Self-realization: To realize is to appreciate the reality of what already is. We are souls who are already indestructible. We are parts of the Divine; we are already loved by that all-loving Lord. Unfortunately, we have misidentified ourselves with our external self and forgotten who we are at our core. When we commit ourselves to spiritual development, we realize who we eternally are.
In an ever-changing world, self-realization gives us an unchanging ground to stand on; in an ever-challenging world, self-actualization gives us something worthwhile to offer. Through both together, we light our corner of the world, for our and others’ benefit.
Pursue self-actualization to become all that we can be materially and self-realization to realize who we are eternally.
Think it over:
- What is self-actualization?
- What is self-realization?
- How does holistic self-development integrate both?
08.07: Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Kṛṣṇa and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.
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