13.12: When lifestyle gets in the way of living….
“You are your car!” So says a billboard. It implies that our car makes a statement about who we are, what our status is and what our economic bracket is.
This infatuation with externals characterizes our culture, which almost compels us to equate living with lifestyle. By constantly bombarding us with ads, billboards and commercials, our culture sucks much of our mental energy into dreaming about improving our lifestyle. Indeed, lifestyle becomes the purpose and essence of our living. This obsession with lifestyle deprives us of the simple and real joys of living – even at the material level, leave alone at the spiritual level. We don’t have the time, the peace or the patience to form meaningful relationships with the persons around us, leave alone the person within us, Krishna.
Gita wisdom frees our living from being so lifestyle-driven. The Bhagavad-gita (13.12) indicates that understanding the eternality of spiritual knowledge (adhyatma-jnana nityatvam) characterizes those in knowledge. With Gita wisdom, we understand that the difference between lifestyle and living largely parallels the difference between the material and the spiritual.
Most of what today’s culture calls lifestyle keeps us riveted to the material level, where we get at best a tiny bit of unfulfilling pleasure and at worst a lot of intolerable misery. Real living, on the other hand, happens only at the spiritual level, because ultimately only the soul is alive and is the source of all the activity evident at the material level. Only at the spiritual level can we form meaningful relationships with Krishna and with all living beings as his children – and thereby relish lasting and fulfilling happiness.
When we give the spiritual its due priority in our lives, then lifestyle can no longer come in the way of living.