The more we live for the world, the further we go from the self

To live for the world means to spend our life pursuing goals set by the world. Because the world’s mainstream culture is materialistic, the things it glamorizes are mundane and sensual. And with today’s world offering us easy access to the Internet with its endless distractions, living for the world means living for increasingly trivial things: movies, video games, spectator sports and so forth.

By living for the world, we distance ourselves from truly important things – including the very things that make us, us. Gita wisdom explains that at our core, we are souls. We are eternal and we long for eternal love that can be found only in a devotional relationship with the all-attractive Supreme Person, Krishna. When we connect with him by practicing bhakti-yoga, we realize ourselves spiritually. Moreover, by understanding how the body is a tool, we can observe it objectively and thereby optimize our contributions materially.

However, such self-realization is rendered impossible when we live materialistically. The Bhagavad-gita (02.69) indicates that the material and spiritual worldviews are as different as night and day. The more we go into the darkness of the night, the further we go from the light of the day. Similarly, the more we live for the world, the further we go from the self.

Thankfully, bhakti-yoga offers us an integrated spirituality that requires not rejecting the world but re-envisioning it. That is, we see the world as an arena not for sensual gratification, but for devotional contribution. With this vision, though we live in the world, we don’t live for the world; we live to serve Krishna in the world.

When we thus cultivate a mood of service, the world becomes our gateway to the self, the Supreme Self and their spiritual connection that offers the supreme satisfaction.

Think it over:

  1. What does living for the world mean?
  2. How does living for the world distance us from the self?
  3. How can we live in the world, but not for the world?

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2 Comments

  1. Hare Krishna Prabhu,

    Great thoughts but BG 3.4 to 3.8 contradicts the statement “By living for the world, we distance ourselves from truly important things – including the very things that make us, us.”

    Bg 3.4 — Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection
    Bg 3.5 — Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.
    Bg 3.8 — Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one’s physical body without work.

    I think we should not mix duties and basic nature with extreme sense enjoyment/lust. I just wanted to share my thoughts on this.

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    • Agree with your conclusion. The first paragraph clearly explains what I mean when I say live for the world, though. So, the verses you quote don’t apply to what I am saying.

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