Q and A with Ellen Grace O’Brian, author of
The Jewel of Abundance
Tell us about the four universal goals of life that you write about in The Jewel of Abundance.
The four universal goals of life are drawn from teachings in the ancient Vedas. They are especially relevant today because they are about a balanced, fulfilled, spiritually awakened, purposeful life. The four goals are: dharma—to live with higher purpose; artha—to prosper in order to fulfill your dharma; kama—to enjoy life; and moksha—to realize true freedom, or enlightenment.
The primary focus of your book is on the second universal goal of life, or artha, which is to prosper in every way. Please elaborate more on that one.
Artha means wealth, prosperity, or abundance. Wealth is often a troublesome goal for those on a spiritual path in life because so many spiritual teachings warn the seeker of truth to not be derailed from the path by desire. All the scriptures touch on this, including the Vedas. However, they also include the teaching that we must learn to prosper to live a truly fulfilled life. We must look at what it means to truly prosper and how that is connected to dharma, or fulfillment of our life purpose.
The subtitle of your book is “Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga.” Please tell us about the connection between yoga and prosperity.
There is a specific teaching about prosperity in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the primary text for those studying yoga philosophy. It is found in the ethical guidelines for spiritually conscious living, which are called “yamas” or restraints. In the list of guidelines for right relationship with others is this promise about prosperity: When a person is established in nonstealing, the jewels of abundance appear. We work with this promise by first inquiring: What does it mean to be established in nonstealing? Nonstealing is refraining from taking or appropriating anything that does not rightfully belong to us. We can explore that on many levels — physically, mentally, and even spiritually. Most of us recognize outright theft but using spiritual principles, we examine it more deeply. For example, taking more than we need, can rightfully use, or even appreciate, is a kind of theft, even if we can afford it. Another example of “stealing” is taking credit for another’s work or creative efforts. At the end of the day, it all comes down to our ability to prosper from the inside out — to realize our own innate sufficiency. That consciousness of sufficiency is the jewel of abundance that draws to us what we need. It has far-reaching implications and offers profound insights into the nature of thriving ways that all may thrive.
In The Jewel of Abundance, you say that learning how to prosper is a path of transformation in the context of spiritual awakening. Tell us more.
To prosper and fulfill our highest potential requires developing a consciously cooperative relationship with the Infinite, learning how to work in harmony with the power that runs the universe. This expands our thinking, degree of receptivity, and awareness beyond the boundaries of the ego. As our awareness expands, we are naturally transformed.
What’s the biggest mistake people make when they try to prosper?
Forgetting that it is natural for them.
What do you most hope readers will take away from your book The Jewel of Abundance?
To thrive and to prosper is the nature of the soul. When understood as the companion to dharma, or living with higher purpose, wealth becomes a profound avenue of both personal and planetary transformation.
Ellen Grace O’Brian is the author of The Jewel of Abundance and director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment in San Jose, CA. Ellen is a yogacharya (an esteemed yoga teacher), a radio host, and an award-winning poet who weaves poetry into her teachings on spiritual matters, pointing to the mystical experience beyond words and thought. Ordained by a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, she has been teaching Kriya Yoga philosophy and practice nationally and internationally for over three decades. Visit her online at www.ellengraceobrian.com.