16.11 – Filling our mind, emptying our pocket, starving our heart – is this progress?

by January 5, 2013

Today’s materialistic culture charms us by portraying itself as progressive. But is it really?

Beyond its impressive technological wizardry, what does it actually do for us? The three main things it does are:

  1. Fill our mind: Through the marketing, advertising and entertainment industries, our culture exposes us to material temptations at a scale never before seen in human history. This exposure crowds and congests our mind with countless cravings for the glamorized objects that the culture ceaselessly parades before us.
  2. Empty our pocket: As we pursue and purchase those objects, we find our desires growing insatiably because, no matter how good and how many objects we have, newer and better objects constantly appear and allure. When we become seduced by these objects, our pockets become empty faster than we can ever fill them, however much we earn. This inability to match our finances with our fantasies breeds enormous stress, tension and worry. The Bhagavad-gita (16.11) indicates that such anxieties are inexhaustible; they mercilessly extract a heavy mental toll from us till the moment of death.
  3. Starve our heart: All this trouble might have been worthwhile if at least it had made us happy. However, despite the profuse and pervasive sensory stimulation that the culture touts as enjoyment, our heart remains unfulfilled, lonely, starving for love. Materialism makes us love material objects that can’t reciprocate love with us. Even when we love people, materialism makes us see them primarily as bodily objects meant to satisfy our senses, thereby undercutting our ability to form loving relationships with them. And, of course, materialism deems God non-existent or at least irrelevant, thereby depriving us of the supreme fulfillment that comes from loving him.

Isn’t it time to ask the unpopular but unavoidable question: is this progress?

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