Why is spiritual happiness considered superior to material happiness?
Question: Why is spiritual happiness considered superior to material happiness?
Let’s discuss them one-by-one:
S: Special: All living beings – human and subhuman – seek pleasure through the basic bodily activities of food, sleep, sex and show of strength. We humans alone have the special privilege of access to spiritual happiness: only we humans have the developed consciousness to connect our spiritual essence – the soul – with our spiritual source – God. Sadly, most humans neglect this special privilege and chase after the ordinary pleasures that are available to the animals. Those few courageous humans who have the guts to stand out from the crowd and cash in on their spiritual privilege become truly special.
I: Increasing: The more we relish spiritual happiness, the more our devotional connection with God, who is the source of all happiness, strengthens, and consequently the more our spiritual happiness increases. This increasing nature of spiritual happiness is a joyful contrast to the decreasing nature of all material happiness. The more a person indulges in any form of material happiness, say sex, the more the bodily capacity to enjoy decreases, just as a water-filled sponge losing its water-emitting capacity with every squeeze. Further, as a materialistic person ages, the capacity for bodily enjoyment often becomes zero due to the onset of impotency. Again, in joyful contrast, as a spiritualist ages, the distractions caused by material temptations decline due to the body’s decreased capacity for indulgence and so the capacity to absorb the mind in – and thereby relish – spiritual happiness increases.
N: Non-dependent: All material pleasures depend on something external to us – be it a TV set or a bank balance or a good-looking partner. As these external factors are not in our control, the hopes for material happiness make us helplessly and, at times, pathetically dependent on these externals. Spiritual happiness depends only on God, who is always present within our hearts, and on our capacity to connect with him, which does necessarily depend on any externals. Thus material enjoyment makes us slave to our circumstances, whereas spiritual happiness makes us free from our externals.
G: Good (for yourself and everyone else): As material resources are scarce, the more we use these resources for our material enjoyment, the more we deprive others of their quota of material enjoyment. But when we seek spiritual happiness by connecting with God, we don’t deplete anyone else’s quota of happiness, because God, the source of spiritual happiness, is unlimited. Even better, we become examples and instruments for others to similarly connect with God and thus, by our spiritual happiness, we help others increase their happiness too.
Why not SING our way to happiness?
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