The material and the spiritual can be competitive, but they can also be cumulative

When we start practicing spiritual life, our material and spiritual sides can seem to be competitive.

Both require our time and energy. As these are limited, we need to choose between the material and the spiritual. And yes, we need to initially separate our life into material and spiritual sides so that we invest enough time in directly spiritual activities. Thereafter however, we need to integrate both in our life’s overarching purpose.

Gita wisdom raises us beyond being generic spiritual seekers to becoming devotional seekers. This bhakti vision helps us appreciate that both matter and spirit come from Krishna, being his energies. The Bhagavad-gita (18.46) points to this integrated vision when it urges us to worship Krishna with our work. It stresses that the arena in which we work comes from Krishna and is pervaded by him because everything comes from him and is pervaded by him. Though usually worship is associated with direct devotional activities such as offering lamps, waving fans and ringing bells, the Gita extends the ambit of worship to include our work. Thus, it presents the material and the spiritual not as competitive, but as complementary – even the material can be spiritualized.

To realize this complementariness, firstly we shouldn’t let our material life eat into our fundamental spiritual commitments. Simultaneously, we shouldn’t let our spiritual life make us resentful of our essential, unavoidable material obligations. When we invest adequate time in directly spiritual activities, our consciousness becomes infused with a devotional service attitude. Then, we can carry that attitude into our material activities, thereby spiritualizing them through our intent.

With our life animated by service attitude, our material and spiritual sides become cumulative. They both help us grow in our relationship of loving service to Krishna and in finding enduring fulfillment therein.

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  1. ThankYou very much Chaitanya Charan Das sir for this wonderful article. It has come to my rescue at the right time to address my ongoing mental tussle regarding the same issue.. material work activities vs devotional spiritual activities! I was contemplating & searching for the answer on the samething today &got it from your article. Thankyou very much!

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