When comforts become ends, life becomes a dead end
Imagine a group of people who board a crowded train. Due to the discomfort, they struggle to first find standing space, then leaning space, then sitting space, then sitting space next to the window. Finally just when they have found a comfortable place, the train comes to its final stop: an utterly desolate station. And then they realize: they had boarded the wrong train!
Might this be the story of our modern materialistic civilization?
The world we are born into is not a particularly comfortable place. For the last few centuries, materialistic civilization has struggled to make life more comfortable. For many people, increasing life’s comforts has become an all-consuming obsession. They equate success in life, even a successful life, with owning the most gadgets and owning houses with the most conveniences.
This obsession with comforts makes them forget that comforts are a means to an end, just as a comfortable train seat is a means to the end of reaching a destination.
What is the forgotten end?
Fulfilling relationships. Intuitively, we all know that without our loved ones, life’s best comforts would offer us little,if any, joy. Gita wisdom extends our intuition to the spiritual realm by explaining that life’s greatest fulfillment comes from our deepest and longest relationship: our relationship with Krishna.
The Bhagavad-gita (03.16) cautions that those who neglect that divine relationship for the sake of material comforts and pleasures live in vain (mogham partha sa jivati). Even if they succeed in gaining those things – and that’s a big if, they still remain dissatisfied, forever wanting more. And finally they become devastated as life grinds to a miserable halt at death.
Their fatal blunder was mistaking comforts to be life’s ends.
Why should we commit the same blunder?
“My dear Arjuna, one who does not follow in human life the cycle of sacriﬁce thus established by the Vedas certainly leads a life full of sin. Living only for the satisfaction of the senses, such a person lives in vain.”