Go beyond captivity to futility and utility
As practicing spiritualists, we may face the question, “What should be my attitude towards the material world?”
Let’s first look at the three broad attitudes that we can have towards the world:
- Captivity: When we live primarily for material pleasures, we try to bring the material world under our captivity. We hope to bend the world to our will so as to extract our desired pleasures from it. Paradoxically though, as long as we try to bring the world under our captivity, we stay under its captivity; we remain captivated by its seductive promises of pleasure. We can’t strive for any pleasures beyond the worldly.
- Futility: When we chase after worldly pleasures, we realize that they are elusive to get; even if we get them, they turn out to be shallow and unsatisfactory; even if we settle for them, time drags them away. When we thus realize their elusiveness, shallowness and temporariness, we reject them as futile.
- Utility: Gita wisdom informs us that we are souls and children of Krishna. We can relish spiritual happiness if we become pure by rendering devotional service. To that end, we can use all the worldly resources that are helpful in serving him. The Bhagavad-gita points to this principle of utility when it (09.27) urges us to offer all our activities and resources to Krishna.
Thus, our attitude towards the material world needs to go beyond captivity to futility and utility: rejecting as futile the material pleasures that make us forget Krishna, and accepting as useful the material resources that help us serve him.
“Whatever you do, whatever you eat, whatever you offer or give away, and whatever austerities you perform do that, O son of Kunti, as an offering to Me.”