Isn’t spiritual life an attempt to escape from reality?
Question: Isn’t spiritual life with its longing for another world an attempt to escape from reality?
Answer: Yes, spiritual life is an attempt to escape – not from reality, but to reality.
Let us objectively examine what people call as real life. It is the life of perpetual struggle from the womb to the tomb: struggle for education amidst back-breaking pressure – literally through schoolbags and figuratively through others’ expectations, struggle for employment amidst cutthroat competition, struggle for family harmony amidst hot and cold domestic wars, struggle for health amidst the aging of the body – and ultimately the futile struggle against the death sentence inherent to our mortal bodies. Amidst all these struggles, we busy ourselves in complicated, even computerized, versions of the animalistic Neanderthal pursuits of eating, sleeping, mating and defending. The uncertainty of success in these pursuits causes us constant stress and the occasional success we tout as our “happiness”. Throughout this “real” life, we wake up each morning to witness our bodies emit a foul-smelling substance – if we are fortunate enough to not be constipated. We hastily flush away the foul reminder that our bodies are not what we make them look by dressing and making-up. But we can’t flush away the coloring and discoloring of our bodies as they age, sicken and succumb. Even before such distresses overwhelm us, our life gets so boring that more patients visit psychiatrists due to boredom than due to distress.
How have we declared a life so inane, so pointless, so disappointing, so deadening as real life? How have we been deceived into accepting as real such a pathetically low estimation of our human potentials?
Our real life is far more dignified than the indignities our bodies subject us to. Our real life is far more graceful than the disgraces that the world buffets us with. Our real life is the life of spirit, the life of freedom, the life of joy, the life of eternity. The Bhagavad-gita – and indeed the sacred texts of the world’s greatest wisdom-traditions – proclaims that our real life is beyond the life of this miserable, material world. In our real life, our innate longing for everlasting life is fulfilled by recognizing and realizing our spiritual immortality. Therein, our intrinsic longing for love is eternally and completely fulfilled by reposing it in the all-attractive all-loving eternal Supreme Person, God,Krishna. That life of love is our real life, not our present ugly and unfortunate caricature of life that we mistakenly label as real life.
So, by fixing our ambitions and aspirations on the world beyond while doing our necessary duties in this world, let us rise from pseudo-reality to reality.