The material is not spiritual, but it is spiritualizable

“Everything that devotees do is spiritual, so even their material life is spiritual,” we may hear statements like these in devotee circles. Naturally, we may wonder: are they correct?


Gita wisdom indicates that they are correct in principle, but not always in practice – especially for aspiring devotees. To understand why, let’s first clarify basic terms: “spiritual” refers to that which is made of sat-cit-anand, whereas “spiritualized” refers to that which is made of material elements but is used for a spiritual purpose. Our material life cannot become spiritual, but can become spiritualized. The Bhagavad-gita (04.24) indicates that everything material becomes spiritualized for those who work in a spirit of selfless sacrifice (yajna) for the Absolute Truth, Krishna. How much we have internalized this spirit can be known only by Krishna – and occasionally and partially by us when we are in a clear-thinking, introspective mode.


As aspiring devotees we aspire to offer our full heart to Krishna; so, we strive to offer even our material activities to him by doing them in a devotional consciousness.  Still, material activities tend to trigger worldly desires in our heart. Such desires can overwhelm us if we have gone off guard due to assuming to be spiritual the activities that trigger those desires. That’s why it’s safer to err on the side of caution and see those activities as material, as needing spiritualization by our devotional consciousness. To keep our consciousness devotional, we need to engage in explicitly devotional activities like sadhana and seva. The more we do these activities in a mood of selfless service, the more that mood will carry over in our consciousness to our material activities and spiritualize them too.


Thus, infusing a steady devotional mood into our consciousness is the art of spiritualizing our material life.

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 04 Text 24

“A person who is fully absorbed in Krishna consciousness is sure to attain the spiritual kingdom because of his full contribution to spiritual activities, in which the consummation is absolute and that which is offered is of the same spiritual nature.”

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