16.09-10: The Earthbound are Dearth-bound
Many people are earthbound in their conception of life; they think of the earth as the only arena for their existence. They generally acquire this limiting picture of life due to an underlying materialist notion of the self: the idea that there is nothing more to their identity than their material body.
The Bhagavad-gita (16.9) points out that such a materialist worldview is deficient in conception (alpa-buddhayah) and detrimental in consequence (kshayaaya jagato ‘hitah). The next verse (16.10) indicates this toxic consequence by stating that those subscribing to this view come under the control of desires that are insatiable (kamam ashritya dushpuram). Let’s see how this happens and why it is damaging.
Because of their adherence to the materialistic worldview, the arena of their quest for happiness gets restricted to the material realm. Having cut themselves off from access to spiritual happiness, material pleasures become their only sources of happiness and these they seek with a feverish frenzy.
However, all earthly objects being finite and mortal can offer them pleasures that are at best finite and mortal. But as the heart longs for unlimited and unending happiness, they discover to their dismay that, even if they get the best worldly pleasures, those pleasures are just not good enough – rarely good enough in quality and never good enough in quantity. Consequently, the craving for more gnaws and consumes them from within, thereby making them perpetually dissatisfied or dearth-bound.
Gita wisdom frees us from being earth-bound in conception and dearth-bound in consequence. The Gita’s teachings about our spiritual identity and devotional destiny in Krishna’s eternal abode free us from being earth-bound in our worldview. And the Gita’s guidelines for rendering loving service to Krishna free us from being dearth-bound in our quest for happiness.