Materialism centers on gaining; spirituality centers on regaining
All of us have the drive to achieve, which we can direct either materially or spiritually. To aid us in choosing correctly, the Bhagavad-gita contrasts material enjoyment and spiritual fulfillment in its fifth chapter and exhorts us (05.24) to direct our drive to achieve spiritually. Let’s understand why.
Materialism centers on gaining something that is external to us, something that has no intrinsic connection with our essence as souls. We do need basic material resources for survival. However, when we seek material achievements, we often pursue things that are not necessities but are desirables. Material things seem desirable not because they are innately related with us, but because they are culturally glamorized, thereby making us crave for them. The hollowness of this glamorization is exposed when we achieve the glamorized objects and find that they don’t offer any lasting satisfaction. They offer just a bit of fleeting titillation that is not worth the prolonged labor needed to attain them. Moreover, because all material things are external to us, they are taken away, sooner or later, by external upheavals.
In contrast, spirituality offers us a lasting reward because it centers not on gaining something external but on regaining something internal. Lying dormant within us is the latent potential to love Krishna and love all living beings as his children. As this love is intrinsic to us, it can never be taken away from us – unless, of course, we choose to neglect and forget it, as we have at present. Fortunately, all of us have the power to recollect our relationship with Krishna and regain the treasure of love for him.
Once we attain this ultimate spiritual achievement, it will never be lost again; the supreme fulfillment will be ours for the rest of eternity.
“One whose happiness is within, who is active and rejoices within, and whose aim is inward is actually the perfect mystic. He is liberated in the Supreme, and ultimately he attains the Supreme.”