Why material progress is deceptive and dissatisfying
Materialism is the belief system that holds matter is all that exists, or at least matter is all that matters. With this belief system, we naturally put in a lot of effort to improve things in this world. No wonder modern materialistic society is characterized by enormous technological progress that makes life materially comfortable. In fact, facilities and luxuries that were unimaginable even for royalty in the past — facilities such as air conditioning, air travel and telecommunication — are now attainable, even for common people.
While the positive changes that material progress brings about are easily visible and demonstrable, the inner impoverishment it causes isn’t that easily perceivable. Materialism makes us believe that worldly things are life’s sole sources of pleasure. What is the result of this belief? Perpetual dissatisfaction.
No matter how good material things become and no matter how many such good things we get, there;s always so much more to get. And our mind keeps craving for the things we don’t have, Such obsession makes us attached, even addicted to worldly things. When our mind becomes filled with hankering and lamenting associated with the things we are hooked to, we feel constantly impoverished. Indeed, the Bhagavad-gita (16.11) cautions that we become bound by our cravings — our thoughts become imprisoned by our attachments.
Significantly however, the Gita is not world-rejecting. It doesn’t disapprove external improvement; it disapproves the external improvement that leads to internal impoverishment. Guided by Gita wisdom, we turn inward and realize our own spirituality and connect with the ultimate spiritual reality, the all-attractive supreme, Krishna. When we are animated by a mood of serving him, we find satisfaction in our inner world, thereby making our thoughts fulfilling and enriching.
Materialism may make the things outside better, but it makes the thoughts inside worse.
Think it over:
- How does materialism keep us dissatisfied?
- Have you ever felt impoverished despite getting material things?
- How does the Gita make our thoughts fulfilling?