04.24 – Is the material life of devotees spiritual?
“Everything that devotees do is spiritual, so even their material life is spiritual,” we may hear statements like these in devotee circles. Naturally, we may wonder: is it true?
Gita wisdom indicates that this is true in principle, but not always in practice – especially for aspiring devotees. First, let’s clarify basic terms: “Spiritual” is that which is made of sat-cit-anand, whereas “spiritualized” is that which is made of material elements but is used for a spiritual purpose. The Bhagavad-gita (4.24) states that everything material becomes spiritual or, more precisely, spiritualized for those who work in a spirit of selfless sacrifice (yajna) for the pleasure of Krishna. How much we have internalized this spirit varies from person to person, and can be known only by Krishna – and to some extent by ourselves when we are in a clear-thinking, introspective mode.
As aspiring devotees we do want to offer our full heart to Krishna; so, we strive to offer even our material activities to him by doing them in a devotional consciousness. Still, our material activities do tend to trigger worldly desires in our heart.
That’s why it’s safe to not assume that our material activities are spiritual, lest we go off guard and then find ourselves overwhelmed unexpectedly by unwanted material desires. It’s safer to keep in mind that our material activities need to be spiritualized by our devotional consciousness. And that devotion has to be kindled by engaging in activities that are explicitly devotional. The more we do our spiritual activities, our sadhana and our seva, in a mood of selfless service, the more that mood will carry over in our consciousness to our material activities and spiritualize them too, thus enabling us to make our material life spiritual.