We are living in a world where everything and anything is/can be measured. My daily grind goes like this - have a goal take action measure the result fine tune / control the deviation. and Do it every day. This got me thinking , how do i measure my spiritual growth? What do i measure ? How do i know i have reached my goal or deviated from the Path? What are the units of measurement? Can spirituality be measured?
I think the word measurement really is the wrong term, because the spiritual path lies beyond the world and gain is literally a worldly concern.
There are 8 wordly dhammas
- gain and loss
- acclaim and slander
- status and loss of status
- happiness and suffering
The Buddha gave this simile about progress in the practice:
Just as when a carpenter or carpenter's apprentice sees the marks of his fingers or thumb on the handle of his adze but does not know, 'Today my adze handle wore down this much, or yesterday it wore down that much, or the day before yesterday it wore down this much,' still he knows it is worn through when it is worn through. In the same way, when a monk dwells devoting himself to development, he does not know, 'Today my effluents wore down this much, or yesterday they wore down that much, or the day before yesterday they wore down this much,' still he knows they are worn through when they are worn through. - SN 22.101
Also keep in mind that it's not important how "much growth" you have in the practice, because you cannot change your past which conditions this. Your only concern should be to practice now and keep your practice on the path. There is a good explanation by Ajahn Brahmali about how you know that your practice is going in the right direction: in summary, it's going in the right direction if good states (peacefulness, mindfulness, gentleness inside, virtue, morality, kindness, understanding of the dhamma, all these things come together) are increasing and bad qualities (restlessness and desires) are declining, within the span of one meditation session or more powerfully over months and years.
Read "how to measure and deepen your spiritual realization"... it's the best book to answer this question as well almost all spiritual questions. Some would say it is somewhat too extraordinary but it has kept me motivated throughout my youth.
Here is an excerpt.
With that recommendation in mind, here you go:
Important Buddhist measuring sticks (most of them analyzed in-depth in the 700 page manual mentioned above):
- The 5 skandhas and how liberated one is from them. See Surangama Sutra's last chapter.
- The Stages of Insight as a direct correlation towards Awakening.
- The 37 Wings of Awakening.
- The Mahayana paramitas.
- The level of achievement of the Trikaya: dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, nirmanakaya
- The 8/9 samadhis
- One's chi/chakra purification status (this is a very low form of correlation though as the real brilliant students of dharma attain the formless attainments before the much slower form/desire-based achievements--the former of which are superior anyhow).
You spiritual growth can be measure by the power you have acquired in your life as your cycles of past and future lives come to bear on yourself and those around you. You will find that when you do as you should you will find wealth and position as befits your new understandings. This is the meaning of the parable of the treasure tower, which is one of the teachings of the Buddha.