Do others have to pay for our enjoyment?

When we enjoy materially, we often fail to notice that others have to pay for our enjoyment.

Here are a few examples:

1. When one team wins a sports championship, other teams are automatically deprived of that championship.

2. When we get or take a large helping of a delicacy, others have to settle for less of it.

3. When one person gets a particular attractive spouse, others don’t.

Those deprived not only miss the pleasure, but also incur the psychological cost of frustration. Additionally, several material pleasures cause the innocent to pay costs other than psychological. Let’s look at a few such examples:

1. When people smoke in public places, others have to inhale the toxic smoke and consequently pay in terms of spoiled health.

2. When car-drivers ride through crowded streets, those working, selling or living by the roadsides have to breathe the cars’ toxic excrement and consequently pay medical and physiological costs.

3. When First World countries live luxuriously using technologies that cause climate change, even Third World countries have to pay for the consequences.

Such an analysis raises the question, “Isn’t there any way that we can be happy without causing others’ misery?”

Gita wisdom answers that there is indeed: through spiritual devotion. When we learn to lovingly connect with Krishna through remembrance and service, we start experiencing an inner happiness that far from costing others misery instead radiates outwards to make them happy.

No wonder then that the Bhagavad-gita (05.21) urges us to turn away from outer material pleasures and delight in inner spiritual joys.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 05 Text 21

“Such a liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme.”


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What went wrong with the great materialist dream?
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Author: Chaitanya Charan Das

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