How to Be Spiritual: 26 Qualities

(From The Bhagavad Gita)

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How to be spiritual

“How to be spiritual,” is a strange title for this blog post.

Many people ask the question, “How can I be more spiritual,” but the truth is that it reveals a slight lack of understanding.

Because every person is spiritual.

You can’t not be spiritual!

What varies is the degree to which we realize our spirituality. So this post would be better titled, “How to realize your spirituality,” but nobody is looking for that.

The ultimate purpose of the spiritual path is to dissolve the ego and merge with the infinite. We thereby “realize” our spirituality, which is why enlightenment is also called Self-realization”.

The ego is the part of you that believes itself to be a separate entity. But in truth, we’re all just drops in the great ocean of Divine consciousness — we are all one.

So it makes sense that, as you deepen your meditation, you’ll become more kind, caring, and charitable because you come to realize that all beings are extensions of your own self.

The Natural State

You may find that the qualities discussed in this article begin to emerge naturally as you meditate. These are your real qualities; the way you are in your true state free from delusion, ego, and mental restlessness.

That’s why all saints manifest the same qualities: kindness, humility, charity, and sacrifice. They’re in touch with the truest aspect of their own nature.  You don’t see saints going around shouting at people and ripping them off. And if they’re doing those things, they’re not true saints. 

But we don’t need to wait around for these qualities to emerge. We can also consciously practice them in daily life to help deepen our spiritual practice. And the more we practice these qualities, the more they’ll begin to occur spontaneously.

This post looks at how to be spiritual by exploring 26 qualities listed by Krishna in the ancient scripture of The Bhagavad Gita. The explanations are based on Swami Kriyananda’s commentaries in The Essence of The Bhagavad Gita. I highly recommend this book to any true spiritual seeker. We’ll also explore 5 qualities to avoid.

As this post is quite long, I’ve made it available to download as an ebook so you can read later.  You will also get a bonus of 26 exercises to practice these spiritual qualities in your daily life. Download below. 

Download this as an ebook

Maybe you don’t have time to read all of this now, so download it as an ebook and read it later in your own time. As a bonus, you’ll get 26 exercises to practice, one for each of the spiritual qualities. 

How to be spiritual - The qualities

1. Fearlessness

Fear is a result of attachment. When we’re attached to our ego, to our bodies, possessions, or ideals, fear is a natural byproduct.

But when we’re able to let go of worldly things, fear dissolves. There’s nothing left to protect so there is nothing left to fear.

And fearlessness gives us the power to truly transform ourselves. Only then will we be able to help others do the same.

2. Purity of heart

When we remove delusion and overcome the feelings and thoughts that don’t serve us, purity of heart remains. So by releasing negative emotions and negative thoughts, our hearts become pure. At that point, we’re left with the heart’s true reality of love and joy.

We must learn also to control our desires because desires draw us deeper into delusion. The practice of meditation and devotion help us control desire and become pure of heart.

3. Perseverance

Perseverance is not quitting, even when the going gets tough.

Let’s be honest — the spiritual path is not easy. It requires will power, discipline, and determination. We have to keep going if we want to find deeper peace.

We have to persevere with our meditation practice even when it feels like it’s not working at all. When we’re getting angry, frustrated, doubtful, and restless, we need to “Keep on keeping on.”

This applies to everything in life. The more we persevere when challenges arise, the more we’ll succeed in our endeavors. Don’t allow yourself to get diverted from your goals; see them through, especially when the hard times come.

4. Sattwic Charity

How to be spiritual

Giving to charity is important and is a powerful act of self-offering. But it can also inflate your ego if you get a boosted sense of self-importance from giving.

So try to give and then let it go; don’t tell the world about it. Give without the desire for anything in return. Look for opportunities to give to others, not only money, but kindness and positivity.

Also try to be charitable in the way you think of other people. Everyone is essentially looking for the same things: happiness, peace, and love. It’s just that some people don’t know how to find it. So avoid judging or criticizing people because they are seeking for the same things you are.

Try to feel compassion for everyone and be a friend to all. This is the deepest form of charity.

5. Self-restraint

Try to avoid over-indulging in sensory pleasures.

The more we can practice moderation, the deeper we’ll go into our spiritual practice. Refrain from having that last chocolate, limit your use of social media, and only watch television on weekends. These are just a few examples of how to practice self-restraint.

When you do decide to indulge, try to remain centered instead of giving into animal appetites. So if you decide to eat an ice cream, keep your attention present, and focus on the sensations as you eat.

Because sometimes we’ve finished our ice cream and it’s almost as if it disappeared — we’re left wondering where it went.

6. Performance of holy rites

How to be spiritual

Paramahansa Yogananda recommended doing a Vedic fire ceremony. This is where we light a fire and offer everything up to the Divine. Offer your successes and your failures, your joy and suffering.

Now, you might not want to light a fire every night, so there is another way to do this. You can do it before you go to sleep.

Simply imagine a fire at the point between your eyebrows, and offer everything back to spirit. Give it back to the source. Think of all the events of the day, good or bad, and burn them in that fire, letting go of everything.

This is a powerful way to release your ego. As you go about your day, try to remember to offer yourself and everything you do into those flames. Don’t take too much credit or blame, because you are not the one doing any of it.

It is the Divine acting through you. So give it all back to where it came from.

7. Service to holy persons

Once you’ve found your Guru and your true path, dedicate yourself to serving that “holy person.”

There are many ways to do this, but the most important is to serve by following His teachings as well as you can. Follow the path with dedication and meditate daily. See your meditation and prayer as an act of service.

At a certain point, you may also want to help share the teachings with others. Always avoid preaching or proselytizing when people don’t ask you. But share in appropriate places and through appropriate platforms.

8. Study of the Scriptures

How to be spiritual scripture

True scripture contains the realized truths of great spiritual masters. Note that not all scriptures are equal and some are not from truly enlightened beings. So try to feel with your intuition what is right and what is true and filter out the rest.

As a rule of thumb, true teachings are never dogmatic, angry, or hateful. Real truth teaches peace, kindness, and love and does not need to force others into its worldview. People will come when they are ready.

I recommend The Bhagavad Gita, The Upanishads, The Yoga Sutras, and the Christian Bible.

9. Self-Discipline

I can’t overstate how important self-discipline is.

We need to have this quality if we want to succeed on the spiritual path. But discipline grows with time, and we should not try to transform our lives overnight. Take small, frequent steps towards increasing your discipline.

The best thing you can do is meditate every day, even when you don’t feel like it. This helps us build all kinds of other habits and drop negative ones. Use your will power when your energy is low.

Also try to break and disrupt your habit patterns now and again. You can try fasting, or taking a break from a negative habit for a while.

10. Straightforwardness

Always try to be clear in what you say. There is so much room for misinterpretation and ambiguity. Say what you mean and always try to be honest.

Avoid talking behind people’s backs because even if they don’t find out, people feel that negative energy. It never leads to anything good.

Also, be aware of those moments where you are not being straightforward and seek to be clearer next time.

11. Harmlessness

Harmlessness is to avoid hurting others through your actions, words, or thoughts. The last one is important, because harmful thoughts lead to harmful words and actions.

So try to wish people well in your mind instead of judging, criticizing, or reacting to them.

One powerful practice is to take a walk, and to everyone you see, mentally wish them well. Look at them and think, “May you be well; may you be happy.” This helps you to start feeling love and compassion for others. People will feel this energy and be drawn to that inner kindness.

12. Truthfulness

Avoid telling lies because as Walter Scott taught us, they only create a “tangled web” of deception.

Also be truthful to yourself by admitting your shortcomings. If we can admit to ourselves our weaknesses, we gain the power to change.

Transformation becomes difficult if we continue to deceive ourselves and deny our mistakes.

Also avoid gossiping and criticizing, because these are forms of lying in a way. They reaffirm delusion by offering nothing more than opinions and judgments.

13. Renunciation

Renunciation is overcoming selfish desires or desires motivated by the ego; it is about letting go of our attachments.

It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to live in a monastery or an ashram; in fact you can absolutely be in the world as a renunciate. It means to renounce or be non-attached to the things of the world.

One way to do this is to give up habits which you know harm are harmful. Quit eating meat, consuming drugs or alcohol, violent media, anger, and emotional reactivity.

Every step we can take away from the world of desire and towards spirit is a step towards renunciation.

14. Tranquility

Try to be peaceful and centered at all times, to not react when others around you are reacting. Always stay connected to the Divine within you so that you are calm amidst the storm.

Once again, this comes down to being non-attached. Don’t get sucked into the story of the world, but remain in your haven of inner peace.

Hard times come and go but they always come to an end, so don’t get lost in panic and hysteria.

This works the other way as well. When things are going well, when others are celebrating, remain calm and non-attached.

Don’t be a killjoy of course. You can celebrate, but try to remain inwardly tranquil and connected to your center.

Download this as an ebook

Maybe you don’t have time to read all of this now, so download it as an ebook and read it later in your own time. As a bonus, you’ll get 26 exercises to practice, one for each of the spiritual qualities. 

15. Disinclination towards fault-finding

We often criticize others and ourselves.

Try to accept people as they are and find the positive qualities in them, even when they have many faults.

You can help people to improve and give constructive criticism if they ask for it. But most people respond better to kindness and positivity.

Never criticize anyone as an angry or emotional reaction; this can destroy relationships.

Save constructive criticism for times when it is helpful, kind, and appropriate.

16. Kindness

how to be spiritual - kindness

We should always try to be kind to others. As you meditate, kindness emerges as a natural byproduct, but try to practice this quality whenever possible.

Try to not only be kind outwardly, but in your heart and thoughts as well. Think well of people; wish them well.

Accept people and acknowledge that they are on their own journey. They are striving to find peace and happiness like you. Even when people are hard to be around, you can still be kind to them.

17. Non-covetousness

​This quality is reminiscent of the tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.” It is about not desiring something that is not yours.

Having strong desires for someone else’s property or life situation is damaging. It causes great suffering to envy what other people have.

It also prevents you from loving that person and being kind to them. Instead of feeling connected to them, you cause greater separation. You won’t be able to celebrate their wins and successes because you are too wrapped up in your own mindset of scarcity.

Try to appreciate the abundance and blessings of your own life instead.

18. Gentleness

Always try to be gentle in the way you speak and act. Even better, be gentle in the way you think because this will lead to gentle speech and action.

A harsh, loud voice indicates an overbearing and egotistical personality. A gentle voice conveys greater kindness, respect, and compassion.

It doesn’t mean you should speak with a timid voice. You can speak in a gentle but confident way.

Avoid trying to force your will on other people or make them act against their wishes. Try to always be considerate

19. Modesty

Modesty means to not draw attention to yourself. An example may illustrate this best:

You play the guitar and you decide to play a song at an open mic night. Afterwards someone tells you that your song was beautiful and that they loved it.

You might tell them that you actually messed one part up and that you’ve played it better loads of times before. This feels modest, but you’re actually drawing attention to yourself.

You could also say, “Yeh, I rocked that one. It was an awesome performance.” Again you are drawing attention to yourself but in a boastful way.

The modest thing to do is to simply say thank you, smile, and move on. In all situations, try to be polite without drawing attention to yourself, even when you do something wonderful. After all, as a spiritual person, you’ll know that you are not really the one doing it – it is spirit acting and creating through you.

Of course you can give yourself credit and appreciate your successes, but modesty is to leave your ego out of it and not focus excessively on yourself.

20. Steadfastness

Steadfastness means to be resolute in your actions. Try to be fixed in one direction, particularly in your spiritual practice and in the work you choose to do.

This should not be mistaken with stubbornness. If you are wrong or if you’ve made a bad choice, you should admit it, and change your direction. But avoid constant changes of mindset and changes of direction.

If we can go deep into one set of spiritual teachings, our practice will flourish. Otherwise we dig many shallow wells — better to dig one deep one.

And if we can decide on one path of service, we will become an expert in that field and have a greater ability to help others.

21. Radiance of character

how to be spiritual - radiance

Try to be bright in your every day interactions. Share your smiles and your laughter because they bring joy to others.

You know when some people enter the room it feels like a bright light has entered the room. When others attend, you feel a dark cloud descend.

Try to bring light, not heaviness and melancholy. The longer and deeper you meditate, the easier it becomes to be radiant and to control your energy levels.

22. Forgiveness

Anger creates suffering for everyone involved, but most of all it creates suffering for the one who harbors it. If we want to find inner peace, we have to learn to respond to life instead of reacting. Forgiveness gives you power and self-mastery. 

If someone hurts you, you may not want to see that person ever again, but at some point you have to try to let go. You may not want to forget what happened, but we have to move on and accept it. Otherwise it stays inside and eats away at us.

We have to accept people as they are, even if they’ve been unkind and deceitful. Does that mean you have to hang around with them? Not at all.

Their unkindness is their problem – don’t let it become yours. But anger and resentment have to go if we want to find peace.

23. Fortitude

This is the ability to keep going amidst difficult times.

Let’s be honest – life is not always easy. But if we can keep going when the tide is choppy, then we’ll be able to enjoy it when the ocean becomes still.

Try not to be waylaid by adversity. Keep on moving onwards towards the ultimate goal of self-realization. The path is rocky, but we have to keep getting up, and moving forward.

24. Cleanliness

It’s important to keep your clothes and your environment clean.

Your outer environment is a reflection of your inner state of being. Cleanliness shows self-respect and self-love. Also, keep your body pure by eating well and in moderation.

Keep your mind clean by consuming positive and uplifting media.

Finally, keep your soul pure with meditation and prayer.

You can think of cleanliness as purity, keeping yourself free from harmful or impure influences.

25. Absence of Self-Conceit

Conceit is obsession with yourself, talking about yourself, and being generally self-important. It’s the opposite of humility and is symptomatic of the ego running the show.

Try to take the focus off yourself and on to other people. Show an interest in others, talk about them, and ask them questions.

Try to forget yourself in the joy of getting to know other people.

26. Absence of Malice

Malice is another destructive quality. We could also call it hatred or ill will.

Do you ever have times where you wish for something bad to happen to another person? Or do you secretly hate someone for who he or she is? Are there people you wish you didn’t have to see?

These are manifestations of malice. It stems from an inability to accept people and situations as they are.

There is usually a desire to impose your own version of how reality should be on to others. So try to let go of thinking that the world should be the way you want it to be. Let go of the idea that the world (or anyone) owes you anything.

The more we can learn to appreciate exactly how things are, the more we’ll be able to grow.

How to be spiritual - 5 Qualities to Avoid

1. Vainglory

Avoid being vain and boastful. It is the ego trying to gain a sense of power by impressing others.

But people can always feel when you are boasting; it is quite transparent. People don’t always think, “Oh he’s boasting, so he must be insecure!” They just feel like something is a little off and they are less likely to trust you.

Again this comes down to trying to live with humility. Avoid thinking that what you do is more important than it is.

2. Arrogance

Arrogance is believing that you are better than everyone else. It manifests as judging other people, looking down your nose, and patronizing them.

It usually stems from insecurity.

The inner experience of arrogance is usually quite different from the external behavior. Outside they are judgmental and critical of others but inside there is a usually a level of fear that underscores the criticism. Judgmental people are often quickest to judge themselves.

3. Wrathfulness

​Do you lose your temper or react in a fiery or aggressive way when it is not appropriate or necessary?

This can occur when the expectations and the reality diverge and it creates anger.

Wrath is the flip side of desire. When we desire things to be a certain way and our expectations are not met, we become disappointed or fearful which leads to anger.

Again, try to accept the world as you find it instead of superimposing your own version of how it should be.

4. Harshness

Harshness is the opposite of gentleness.

When we are loud and insensitive, we cause other people to feel uncomfortable and anxious.

Try to attune to the people around you and be considerate to their sensitivity.

5. Ignorance

​We finish with a big one. Ignorance has many different manifestations in this world and within every one of us.

We are all ignorant in many different ways. The foundation of ignorance is the inability to tell the difference between true and false. It is the opposite of wisdom.

Ignorance leads us to believe that what is unreal is real and what is real is unreal. Wisdom is having the ability to know the truth.

Some people have greater natural wisdom and others greater ignorance. But we can all strive to be less ignorant.

We can associate with good people, have the desire to learn, and meditate regularly. Meditation brings clarity and understanding.

How to be Spiritual: Final Words

None of us will get this perfect. All we can do is try our best and be gentle with ourselves. The important thing is that we are putting in the effort. 

So choose just one of these qualities to focus on for a day or even a week and try to practice that quality in isolation. 

I’ve found that isolating these qualities is far more effective, because if we try to do everything, we end up doing nothing. 

So what are you going to focus on this week? Which quality do you most need to work on? 

Let me know in the comments below. 

Download the free ebook below and get access to 26 exercises to practice these spiritual qualities in your daily life. 

Related Post: Yamas and Niyamas: Top 10 Tips for Living a Spiritual Life

Download this as an ebook

Maybe you don’t have time to read all of this now, so download it as an ebook and read it later in your own time. As a bonus, you’ll get 26 exercises to practice, one for each of the spiritual qualities. 

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  1. sirglio frei

    Excellent blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? Can I get your affiliate link to your host? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol

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