Why Irrational Shopping?
Question: When shopping, why do many intelligent people suddenly become almost irrational and purchase dozens of unnecessary and even unwanted things?
Answer: The Bhagavad-gita (2.62-63) describes the psychological cause of such irrational behavior:
“Dwelling on sense objects causes lust to catch on fire.
Lust produces anger, born of unfulfilled desire.
Anger breeds confusion and bewilders memory,
Causing lost intelligence and endless misery.”
Let’s understand this verse through the analogy of a snowball.
Through catchy sponsorship tags, jazzy billboards and dazzling TV commercials, the advertising industry brings consumer products in front of our senses again and again. And almost all of them try to catch our attention by depicting the female form at various imagination-triggering levels of dressing or undressing.
John enters a supermarket and his senses are immediately bombarded by sights, smells and sounds of lifestyle products, products that are not on his shopping list. Contemplation on those stimuli creates in his mind a small pebble of desire, lust. As the pebble keeps rolling down in his mind, the initial “That’s nice” feeling soon becomes an irresistible “I want it” craving. Then a sudden wave of fury “Who can stop me from getting it?” sweeps across his mind. The resulting confusion sabotages his memory of his recent resolution to not spend needlessly. With the memory knocked down, the emotional snowball then crushes the intelligence, thus wrecking the last defense against irrationality.
Purchasing an extra product might not appear such a serious problem, but what if it becomes an addiction?
And the emotional snowball principle can be exploited for far greater kinds of irrationality. By seducing gullible young men with promises of virgins in paradise, vested interests convert them into suicide bombers.
To avoid being overpowered by such irrational emotions, we need to avoid contemplating on temptations. But that’s easier said than done. Why? Because we live in a state of perpetual mental dissatisfaction that impels us to seek and experience external objects as potential sources of pleasure. The only way to avoid mental dissatisfaction is to discover a satisfying object of thought.
The Vedic tradition reveals God to be Krishna, the supremely beautiful, supremely powerful, supremely wealthy, supremely wise, supremely peaceful, supremely famous person. Due to his all-attractive, all-loving nature, Krishna is the most satisfying object of thought. And the easiest and best way to think about Krishna is by chanting his holy names like the Hare Krishna mahamantra. By cultivating the practice of regular chanting, we can make thoughts aboutKrishnaour default thoughts and thus experience constant internal satisfaction. Then, whether we are shopping or doing any other activity, instead of being crushed by the emotional snowball, we can crush it in its formative stage – while it is still a pebble.