Success or Serenity? What is my Destiny?


We live in such challenging times. Especially now that the world is tested by the unprecedented situation of a pandemic swirling all our ideas, careers, plans and futures up in the air. And that at best, because, for far too many people it is about raw, medical and mental survival.

Our world is changing rapidly, not just because of the Covid-19 virus and its ripple effects. Our world will continue to change throughout this still-rather-new decade, and then some. The world will be altered so much during the next 10 years that we'll look back in awe at how quaint it was in cosy 2019, and how simple life seemed compared to what it's becoming now.

Although many of us felt modern life was quite something to deal with already, it was nothing compared to what awaits.

We'll see governments and giants sway, we'll see them shake, and sink

And the Earth will move in unexpected ways. Typical, isn't it? Only when it's taken away does one realise how nice it actually was, right? Those good old days. Over and out.

But back to our topic. More and more people write wondering:

  • I consistently fail at getting wealthy or fulfilling other people's expectations.
  • Could that be a sign that instead of material success, the path to spiritual serenity beckons?
  • That my purpose in life is not to chase riches but to be selfless and live for the benefit of others?
  • Or can I have and do both?

Best forget about ever getting rich? Best just to go and sit on a mountaintop or under a tree? Rejecting all responsibility? Should you just quit and get ready to slide through the rest of your years without making any real progress in your life or career? Without making any difference to the people, the sphere around you?

Being a decent human being and a winner at the rat race of modern life – does that even work?

Well, maybe there is a different, more important path for you, one of a bit more selflessness and self-transcendence? Or is that too humble for you? Too little? Oh dear.

Then we best think on. What if there is an avenue between success and serenity? In this modern hubbub of ever-evolving tech and frantic chasing after material success, we tend to forget about eternal things, such as the power of Destiny, our own spirituality, and one's true place in the cosmos. Even though many people believe in the law of attraction, there is sadly no easy plan floating around the multiverse, plotting for you to get rich, powerful and celebrated.

And that would be wrong, right? And why you and not someone else? I hear, "I just want to be filthy rich" far too often. How unattractive. Almost as unappealing as envy. What I don't hear enough in our developed world is, "I just want to be all right." Duh.

But I digress …

You may still have great opportunities sent your way, but it is down to you, not the universe, to gauge and fill them with realistic ambition and relevant life. To locate one's purpose, to reach the next level of self-development and self-knowledge, we should reach for a higher power. And I don't necessarily mean "God(s)" in a religious sense. I'm talking about universal spirituality.

Spirituality is a broad term that includes many high concepts. In my book, a spiritual person is already richer than anyone who's not been granted the grace that accompanies universal spirituality. A spiritual "normie" will always surpass any uninspired millionaire. Money and possessions do not make for good eternal currency.

At the same time, being spiritual and humane may not be seen as a prerequisite to make it to the top. However, carrying the gift of being a conscious and conscientious human being may help you reach your goal in a better way than just being armed with naked material ambition.

Can spirituality help with success?

That entirely depends on what your personal definition of "success" is.

Getting rich.

Achieving fame.

Finding the perfect partner.

A safe and socially secure life.

Learning a great secret.

Achieving a particular goal.

Improving yourself in a variety of ways.

Achieving self-transcendence through philosophy and spirituality.

Going way beyond the ego.

Supporting a great cause and helping others.

This list is by no means complete, but it does cover a few of the basic notions I'll be discussing. For now, we'll focus on the first example, namely that of financial ambition and gain.

Goodness and money

For the record, I don't condemn wealth at all. And I don't dismiss anyone going after money for the sake of success. However, I am pro-social and believe in equality, hence, I do wish for a more benevolent version; a practical, effective form of social capitalism, perhaps. A caring capitalism could be the future key to keeping us, our world, and the climate alive.

We need new ways, new forms of helping those in real need. An open-minded, spiritual yet realistic approach can help us get there, activating those who command ability and aptitude in abundance. And money. To show how spirituality and money can work in tandem, I will use a few inspiring examples from the rather more religious than broadly spiritual world. These are people who made it big. Tough and focused folks. Still, they are proof that steely ambition and a caring disposition can orchestrate a harmonious symphony.

Millionaires like John D. Rockefeller, Henry J. Heinz, and S. Truett Cathy were all devout Christians. The co-founder of HTC Corporation, Cher Wang, has also stated that the Bible is the best book out there on management practice. Nearly all of these individuals have donated heavily to different religious and other organisations.

As a final, somewhat funny example, I'll also briefly mention the Japanese animation director Shinichi Watanabe or Nabeshin. Known for his directorial works such as Excel Saga and Nerima Daikon Brothers, he said in a 2007 interview(albeit half-jokingly) that his now-famous nickname came to him from God directly.

And then there are less faith-led philanthropists like corporate altruism hackers Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan and the record and film producer David Geffen, sponsor of the School of Medicine at UCLA, renamed as the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, renamed David Geffen Hall. While David Geffen does not seem particularly religious, his generous deeds sing a tremendous tune of benevolence. In Judaism, giving from the heart is seen as the aim of creation.

All book religions agree that what we donate to those in need, at the same time, we offer to the Divine. And then there is always Keanu Reeves, who seems to have gotten Destiny's memo quite early in life, enabling him to be authentic and sincere. The amiable superstar emphasises true values through his actions and the way he leads his life – I call that ethical leadership by example.

The pacifist and industrial revolutionary Henry Ford is a true beacon of super success practised in tandem with transcendent human rights and welfare advocacy through his foundation to this day.

But wait, does spirituality empower us for a successful Destiny?

Indeed, sometimes. And honestly, you don't need one to boost the other. Spirituality itself can be a fine goal. People like Gandhi and the Dalai Lama have based their entire life philosophies on self-improvement and being a part of something bigger than themselves.

Likewise, there are many examples of outstanding people that used their successful positions in life to amplify the Destinies of others. And in my book, some individuals are even more amazing than any of the rich folks, because they are good people that are neither loaded nor in the public eye.

It is with quiet dignity that these often unsung heroes support those in need. It's easy, if not cheap to donate millions if you've got billions. It's much harder to donate 100 if you've only got 1,000. And it's more endearing to see hardworking "normal" people devoting spare time to needful causes.

It is great if you are a famous public persona with charitable intentions. Still, much of the legwork will be borne by your army of personal assistants, whereas less well-heeled philanthropists and animal advocates go it all alone. I admit my soft spot for people with their hearts in the right place. We don't have to be rich to be good or to produce good deeds. However, we are not automatically good if we're poor.

Coming back, yes, sometimes spirituality may indeed lead you to a very special path of self-transcendent success. You can, like the late millionaire Milton Petrie, use the money you earn to help those unable to help themselves. Most people think that having oodles of money always leads to a dark path in life. That's not true. In reality, individuals from all walks of life can exhibit evil behaviour. Being poor does not automatically turn us into angelic beings, nor does being rich make us villainous monsters.

How will I know my destined purpose?

That's an answer I can't give you. Or can I? I know it sounds like a cliché, but you have to figure that part out for yourself by deciding whether you want to just get rich by a stroke of luck to quell your perceived needs and desires until you get there.

Likely, you won't.

Or, would you be fine gaining financial stability rather and seeking invisible riches in the spiritual realms? I think that in today's tougher-than-ever world, the achievement of financial stability cannot be rated highly enough, since there are millions of people around the globe who crave exactly that as their highest goal.

And, where is it actually written that you have to be rich? Why is the superlative of having loads of money the goal instead of envisaging a decent life instead? To have sufficient financial security to cover one's necessities and ensure a dependable level of security and enable one's children to have a good start in life, even contribute to their future security?

Mark my word, stable financial independence will be the new wealth soon.

Always be wary of the trap of more, more, more.

Here are some pointers on how to go about figuring it out. If you take a look at Pacific and South East Asian religions such as Hinduism, Taoism and Shinto, you'll see that a lot of them differ from Abrahamic religions in one key aspect.

While Judaism, Christianity and Islam focus on improving yourself for the higher power, Eastern religions focus on improving one's own spirit through improving one's self, one's body and surroundings. Here are six stepping stones I recommend.

Step 1: Self-Awareness

Take a look at your life. Did the jobs you worked fail you or the partners you loved harm you? Did you keep losing even when victory was an inch away? Then it's obvious you need change. Not a change of job or a change of partner—you need a complete goal overhaul. Your new goal should, ideally, be something larger than yourself but that doesn't exclude you because of its gravity. You need to feel like a component of that "something" because otherwise it will be a burden to you. To put it simply, you need a little spiritual guidance.

Step 2: Self-Maintenance

Your body is the bearer of your mind, soul and spirit. None of those are isolated from one another, and you have to maintain them. Once you start doing that, you'll gain proper empowerment for good success. Maintaining your body is not always easy, but it can be made simple. You have the means (and the technology) to keep yourself healthy if you live in the Western world especially. Whatever you choose to do, always try to get fit and eat well.

Then there's the maintaining of your mind. That task is far more difficult than maintaining your body, but it's vital you do it.

  • Try to sleep and relax as much as you can, but don't get lazy!
  • Rest and work need to be in a perfect balance.
  • Spend time learning about the world and about yourself.
  • Read. Listen. Observe. And stay clear of toxicity in any shape or form.
  • Try to live as cruelty-free as you can. That alone will give immense benefits to your physical and spiritual health.
  • Exercise regularly and avoid processed foods, drugs and alcohol. Avoid any excess. Clarity is your best companion.

Once you've kept your body and mind in check, your spirit and soul will thrive as well. Try to maintain a positive but very attentive and inquisitive outlook on life. Be realistic, and never dwell too much on past misgivings. Your past is over.

Step 3: Self-Determination

Remember the goal overhaul I mentioned? There's only one key way to doing it properly—make sure the goal you're trying to achieve means something to you and you alone.

For example, let's take a look at the famous manga artist, Tite Kubo. When he started his work on Bleach (as well as some of his earlier manga), he was never looking to draw an epic storyline with tons of twists and turns. Instead, he just wanted to draw cool-looking action scenes and characters. And when you look at his first few arcs of Bleach, you can tell how much energy and effort went into them. However, as the manga dragged on, he was under a lot of pressure and didn't like his job any more, so the ending was rushed. Of course, his later artwork reflects this, as it is lazier, emptier, and more passive than his older work.

Kubo is a perfect example of what happens when you lose sight of your goal, and your Destiny. He was drained, both physically and spiritually. Don't let that happen to you. If you see yourself straying from the set goal, don't be afraid to change tactics or approach.

Step 4: Self-Invigoration

Life is full of complicated twists and turns. That's why it's probably better if you don't plan too far ahead. Living in the moment instead will keep you focused on your goal. But, more importantly, it will let you experience that moment. Highly spiritual people often contemplate human nature and the universe by simply observing a flower fluttering in the wind or an insect scuttling along the concrete stairs. Once you learn how to enjoy the moment, you'll be unbeatable when bad moments pop up out of nowhere.

Step 5: Self-Reflection

Self-reflection isn't really a last step, since you will be doing it throughout your journey. It's more like an ever-present step from day one. Being spiritual isn't easy. Sometimes you can lose your convictions, and that's fine when you're on the road to your purpose.

If you notice something didn't go well, you can try to find a different path. The important thing to remember is this new path has to align with your purpose. For example, if you want to get rich and maintain your moral purity, you will definitely not try to rob someone or sell illegal substances. However, you can try to move from a service-based industry to innovative agriculture or even entertainment.

The same goes for people who see spirituality as their Destiny. Maybe you can't help people through your actions because you can't get to them or you don't have the tools. But your words can help, even heal. Communicating understanding and positivity is just as important as direct action. Nearly every belief system worldwide has spread thanks to a few focused people willing to pass the message around.

Step 6: Self-Transcendence

You've reached all your stepping stones, you are even self-actualised; you should be at peace with your achievements.

Still, there is a voice talking to your spirit, demanding attention and action beyond the great and, I hope, better life you've built beyond your ego, your self, your personal fulfilment. Even beyond the spheres of your family, your loved ones, and friends. By doing something for others, something vital, or something that has to be done, even if you don't have to.

Like defending those who can't stand up for themselves. That's when it gets fascinating.

It can simply be bad-ass-altruism. Helping others pro bono. Or supporting science, the arts, or humanitarian causes, such as freedom movements, environmental protection, or sponsorships.

You may be supporting or funding research to enhance the lives of others, even if they may never know the vital part you played in them enjoying those results or privileges. And, self-transcendence can also mean sacrifice beyond the material realm: standing up for truth, justice and the rights of others.

Are you up for that? And, before you ask, I'm not saying it pays to appear to be good or virtue-signalling. That, too, would be wrong. Be authentic and sincere or go home.

Success, serenity, or both?

My opinion is that it is best to opt for both. Has it worked for me? It did. Yet, Inever manifested anything. Nor have I lost myself in comparison or wishful thinking. To me, it's not the universe's job to furnish us with goodies and gifts. It is us who have to support eternity with our deeds and practised ideals. My personal, un-cosy recipe for success?

A few dos and don'ts:

  • Don't be greedy.
  • Work extra hard.
  • Don't expect oodles of money or unearned windfalls and entitled gifts to fall into your lap.
  • Don't expect to be the centre of the cosmos.
  • Don't be envious.
  • Don't expect more than you can swing.
  • Create your own culture of ethical advancement.
  • Share.
  • Don't be full of a sense of entitlement, but convince through your deeds.
  • Be prepared to sacrifice, even suffer.
  • Try to beat self-deception.
  • Be economic, but don't be mean.
  • Preserve a little humility.
  • Never sell out.
  • Don't leave home without your moral compass.
  • Strongly stand for your principles, quietly.
  • Go for less, complex, and slower instead of easy, and illusional.
  • Never ever stop learning.
  • Never halt growing—spiritually and intellectually.
  • Be honest to yourself, warts 'n all, light and shade.
  • Try to deserve what you wish to achieve.
  • Be good to animals. Especially cats.

N.B. To have does not mean to be

Serious wealth and material stuff offer a certain degree of freedom, granted. In fact, they can bog you down into a web of pressures and responsibilities. Enough should be enough.

Everything is a question of balance.

A successful person without a spiritual component is an empty shell. Their entire life is usually driven by the opinions of others, and they often don't have real goals of their own other than to be wealthy.

However, a spiritual person with no desire for any kind of material progress may not get very far just because they chose to skip on the challenges of life and dissed gaining advancement. Even concepts that can be perceived as evil by public opinion, such as extreme wealth, can be put to good use when they're in the right hands. To me, good success follows my desire to reach my goal, and the inborn confidence in my Destiny gives me the strength to power through. That may not work for everyone, of course.

Ultimately, we want you to succeed.

And if you do so by having a completely different approach to spirituality and success than me, more power to you, and you have my ultimate support. Ambition is great. But try to avoid greed and avarice. And, maybe, just maybe, it's your Destiny to learn about yourself instead of just getting rich, go beyond yourself instead of freezing in meaningless materialism, and find purpose in living your optimal life instead of just focusing on piling up the bucks?

We can never fully enforce our Destinies. And if we are not who and what we want to be, perhaps there are deep reasons why we aren't.

Maybe we have to learn to be decent humans before we envisage bathing in money and success?

How about finding your Destiny in modern times, but in concert with serenity, and success? For yourself, and others? This I wish for you and for mankind.

In the words of Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl, neurologist, creator of Logotherapy, author of Man's Search for Meaning and outstanding Agent of Destiny:

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.

Last updated 25 March 2024

If you wish to find out more about The Destiny Book why not read the article A Teaser to my Book on Destiny.