Filling our mind, emptying our pocket, starving our heart – is this progress?
Today’s materialistic culture charms us by portraying itself as progressive. But is it really?
Beyond its impressive technological wizardry, what does it actually do for us? Three main things:
1. Fill our mind: Through the marketing, advertising and entertainment industries, our culture exposes us to material temptations at a scale never before seen in human history. This exposure crowds and congests our mind with countlesscravings for the things that the culture ceaselessly parades before us.
2. Empty our pocket: As we pursue and purchase those objects, we find our desires growing insatiably because, no matter how many and how good the objects we have, newer and better objects constantly appear and allure. Whenwe become seduced by these objects, our pockets become empty faster than we can ever fill them, however much we earn. This inability to match our finances with our fantasies breeds enormous stress. The Bhagavad-gita (16.11) indicates that such anxieties are inexhaustible; they mercilessly extract a heavy mental toll from us till the moment of death.
3. Starve our heart: All this trouble might have been worthwhile if at least it had made us happy. However, despite the pervasive sensory stimulation that the culture touts as enjoyment, our heart remains unfulfilled, lonely, starving for love. Materialism makes us love unconscious things that can’t reciprocate. Even when we love people, materialism makes us see them primarily as bodily objects meant to satisfy our senses, thereby undercutting our ability to form loving relationships with them. And, of course, materialism deems God non-existent or at least irrelevant, thereby depriving us of the supreme fulfillment that comes from loving him.
Isn’t it time to ask the unpopular but essential question: is this progress?
“They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable. Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratiﬁcation.”