Why believe in spiritual promises about future happiness?

by August 30, 2011

Question: Isn’t it unreasonable to believe in the promise of spirituality that by practicing some spiritual methods, we will be happy forever in the future?

Answer: No; it’s entirely reasonable – and it’s certainly much more reasonable than the belief in the promises of materialism. Let’s see how.

All human beings – not just spiritualists – live by hoping for a better future. What is the future that most of us live for? A future determined by the advertisements, billboards and commercials. Sociological studies show that most of us spend their lives in three main activities: work, watch and shop. After a day’s hard work, we watch TV hoping that its multi-channel hi-tech fare will relax us. However, far from relaxing us, this TV watching agitates our lust and greed further: indirectly by seductive serials depicting fantastic enjoyment and wealth, and directly by jazzy commercials glamorizing the latest consumer products. Goaded by the TV hype, we spend our earnings, savings and borrowings to purchase hundreds of “un-necessities,” hoping that these will make us happy.

But all material pleasures are at best disappointing and at worst heartbreaking. Cell phones, iPods, play stations – these offer pleasure and prestige only for the brief period when they appear new. Many times, even before they become hackneyed, the TV goads us to purchase their newer versions. And the more we shop, the more we feel the need to work to earn, and the more we feel the need to watch TV to relax from the work, and the more we feel the need to shop to cater to the TV-triggered desires. Thus the materialistic society rolls on, subjecting its victims – us – to the worldwide stupidity (wws) of work, watch, shop (wws).

Despite repeatedly experiencing the falsity of the promises of materialism, we fail to recognize that these promises are intrinsically false; they can never make us happy. Instead of becoming skeptical about these promises, we remain skeptical about the promises of spirituality without even giving spirituality a try. If we examine open-mindedly, the faith asked for by the spiritual literatures like the Bhagavad-gita is quite reasonable. The Gita systematic analyzes different kinds of happiness and logically shows spiritual happiness to be the best. In addition to its profound spiritual philosophy that promises everlasting happiness in the hereafter, the Gita also provides powerful spiritual practices which deliver glimpses of that happiness in the here and the now.  If we try out the mantra meditation that the Gita recommends and give ourselves a chance to experience the resulting peace and bliss, then we will realize for ourselves the reasonableness of faith in spirituality – and the unreasonableness of our faith in materialism.

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