16.08-09: The immaterial is not immaterial
The Bhagavad-gita (16.8) describes that the ungodly consider the material to be everything and the immaterial (or non-material) to be non-existent. The next verse (16.9) outlines the consequences of such an imbalanced and short-sighted worldview: it impels them to a live-for-the-moment materialistic lifestyle that not only keeps them spiritually bankrupt but also removes all safety valves from their materialism. Soon this materialism assumes unwholesome, unhealthy proportions that not only misfires to harm the very earth that is its indispensable arena, but also backfires to hurt those very materialists who triggered it. Thus the Gita indirectly foresees specters like climate change and weapons of mass destruction that are haunting our world, foreboding global decimation if not annihilation.
The message from the Gita’s sixteenth chapter is that even if we consider our material lives to be of primary importance, the immaterial (the non-material or spiritual realm) is not immaterial (unimportant). Only when we give our spiritual side its due time, thought and tribute will we have the inner defense mechanism to protect ourselves from our madcap material side.
Of course, spiritual nourishment offers much more than this fringe benefit; it offers a lasting inner peace that shelters us from the materialistic mania of this world and ultimately catapults us back to the eternal abode that is forever free from all material desires and fears.