16.09 – Materialism is wrong and wrongheaded
Materialism, the idea that matter is all that exists, is seducing everyone nowadays especially through the media. We can see through its deception by understanding that materialism is wrong intellectually and wrongheaded practically.
Materialism is wrong not just because it contradicts the essential message of the great wisdom-traditions of the world that direct us to an eternal non-material abode as our ultimate home. It is wrong also because logical inference from the scientific study of the world falsifies it: why we conscious beings came into existence in a world of matter cannot be explained by starting with matter alone.
Materialism is wrongheaded practically because it sticks obstinately to wrong notions even in the face of decisive contrary evidence. Materialism attracts many people because it promises happiness in the here-and-now, primarily through sex and money. However, increasing sociological evidence is proving irrefutably that materialism’s promises are lies. Its promise of erotic delights has given way to a nightmare of divorces, heartbreaks, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. Its promise of wealth has given way to the nightmare of constant financial insecurity for most people and an unending tormenting craving for more money among everyone – even the super-wealthy.
Analysis like these can help us see the truth of the declaration of the Bhagavad-gita (16.9) that materialism is detrimental at best (ahitah) and disastrous at worst (kshayaaya).
Gita wisdom offers us a dualistic and personalist vision of reality. It integrates the two dimensions of reality – material and spiritual – as energies of the all-attractive supreme person, Krishna. This holistic worldview is intellectually appealing and practically endearing. Intellectually, it answers coherently questions about the nature and purpose of existence. Practically, it enables us to lead a balanced life of devotional service that yields fulfillment in this world and endless ecstasy in the next.