What we need to give up is not material life but the materialistic conception of life

Some people think that becoming spiritual requires giving up material life.

However, their apprehension arises from a misunderstanding of spirituality. The foundational spiritual text, Bhagavad-gita, explains that becoming spiritual centers on giving up materialistic conceptions, not on giving up everything material.

At the Gita’s start, Arjuna wanted to give up material life, for he feared that his material duties would cause him karmic bondage. In responding to his concern, the Gita stresses that we can never give up all action (03.05) and that without acting dutifully, we can’t even maintain our bodies (03.08).

What causes entanglement is not action per se, but its underlying motivation. Our motivation is shaped by our conception of life. To have a materialistic conception of life means to live for material pleasures. This conception is erroneous because we are souls, eternal parts of Krishna (15.07) – we are meant to live in eternal ecstatic harmony with him.

To avoid karmic entanglement, we need to change our motivation and work in a mood of sacrifice (03.09). When we offer our activities to spiritual reality, karma doesn’t stick to us, just as water doesn’t stick to a lotus leaf (05.10). Krishna is the supreme spiritual reality (07.07). Therefore, sacrifice for Krishna’s pleasure is the most evolved form of sacrifice.

When we work in a mood of devotional sacrifice, we don’t use our worldly resources for our material pleasure. Instead, we use them for Krishna’s pleasure by engaging them in his service as an offering of our love.

By seeing the connectedness of everything with Krishna and using everything in his service, we give up the materialistic conception of life. Then we can function in material life without becoming materially entangled, for our motivation of working for Krishna’s pleasure serves as our protection.

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