Copyright 2011 Universal Society of Bhakti Meditation
Living a Well-balanced Material and Spiritual Life

    Every individual soul is searching for happiness because the soul is a subtle shakti (ansh) of the supreme
embodiment of happiness – God. The question remains that how can one attain happiness. There are many schools
of thoughts regarding the attainment of happiness. However, we can divide all the various concepts into two major
categories – one, materialism and the other, spirituality. Those who consider themselves to be mere physical body
are materialists and those who consider themselves to be the spirit divine, or soul, are spiritualists.            
Unfortunately, both of these contradictory schools of thinkers ignorantly condemn one another to be baseless and
meaningless. But, just as the soul can never exist without a physical body and is, hence, eternally related to it, in the
same manner, materialism and spirituality also have a mandatory relationship since eternity.
     How exactly are they related? We address ourselves both as the body and the soul. When we are alive we unite
both the body and the soul and say 'I'. I am going, I am eating, and I am drinking. But when the soul leaves the
body, then the people say, “Today he left the world”. But his body is lying in the coffin. This means that there are
two entities - one is the 'I' and the other is the 'my’. That is why it is absolutely necessary to attain the aim or subject
of both the 'I', which is the soul, and 'my’, which is the body.
    The body is made up of the five elements; earth, water, fire, air and ether. So its subject pertains to the five
senses – the sense of sound, touch, form, taste and smell. The soul, on the other hand, is the ansh of God – so its
subject is God. It will not work if we give spiritual subjects to the body or material subjects to the soul. So, it is very
important to reconcile the two.

    First, let us take one concept that without materialism we cannot achieve spirituality because we need the body
to practice devotion. Body means the physical body, its senses, mind and intellect. All these are the material energy,
the product of 'maya’. Only the soul is spiritual, being the ansh or part of God. The body needs to be maintained
well and kept healthy for spiritual practices. All the necessary vitamins, nutrition, protein, iron, magnesium, copper
etc. are needed in the right amounts. If we fail to give the correct supply of all the supplements we will surely fall
sick. Then, we will end up having aches and pains in different parts of the body. We will not be able to meditate on
God. Instead we will end up meditating on the bodily pains. We cannot practice devotion this way. Suppose
someone claims that we have had great sages who did not need the material world and that they lived without food,
water, and air, on this earth or in space. Even the earth or space is part of the material world. Moreover, such man of
austerities still posses the material body to practice their penance. Hence, as long as one possesses the body, be it a
God realized Saint, a renunciate or a Paramhans, they all need to beg and eat. They all need to supply the necessary
supplements to the body.          
    The Vedant says: “Pashvadibhishchavisheshat”. Just as the animals and all other living beings get hungry and
thirsty, so do the Paramhans. If one neglects health, nature will punish that person. One can ignore and neglect the
physical health for a while but not always. Once, Mahatma Buddha sat in deep meditation without eating any food
for many days. One day he started feeling giddy and at the same time few village ladies were passing by singing a
folk song. The words of the song was, “tighten the strings of the tanpura and then play, but do not over tighten it so
much that the string may break.”
    When Mahatma Buddha heard this song he thought that even these  illiterate village ladies are saying such a
great thing – that a tanpura should not be played without tightening because that will not create music but neither
should it be over-tightened for that way the string may break. Even the supreme Lord Shri Krishna told Arjun the
same thing in the Bhagwad Gita:
Natyashnastuyogostina chaikantamanashnatah,
Na chattiswarnashilasya a jagratonaiiva charjuna. (6/16)

Yuktswapnavabodhasyayogobhavatidhukhaha  (6/17)

    Lord Krishna says that by eating unhealthy you will not be able to do Sadhana and if you completely stop eating
even then you will not be able to do Sadhana. According to material science, the body that is made up of the five
elements needs to get all the five elements in the correct amount, neither too much, nor too little. Even the great
sage Maharishi Narad ji wrote in his scripture Narad Bhakti Sutra: “Lokopi tavadev
   Thus, all the spiritualists need the material world; those who say that the world is an illusion also need the
elements of the material world. God is not a fool that He has created the world without a purpose. God, the creator
of the body, created the world for the proper utilization (upayog) of the body and not for material enjoyment
(upabhog). We need to understand the difference between upayog and upabhog and correct our way of living.
   Suppose you need to buy a shawl or a dress and there is a choice. Either you can buy the $1000 one or a $100 one.
Upayog would be to buy a $100 shawl which would exactly the same work as the $1000 one but upabhog would be
to buy a $1000 shawl. Similarly, eating simple healthy food is upayog but having a variety of delicacies is upabhog.
Actually, all the pleasure that we give to the senses is wrong. We get only temporary pleasure but there are two
major side effects of it – first,  the desire for more keeps increasing and secondly, after spoiling yourself with various
kinds of fried savory, rich, oily foods and sweets,  we destroy our lungs, kidney, heart, stomach, and run to the
doctors for treatments. Materialism means utilizing the world for the maintenance of the body. Thus, upabhog is
dangerous but upayog is necessary and without it we cannot live even for a day. Without life how can anybody
practice spirituality? That is why the spiritualists should stop condemning materialism and should accept it instead.
    Now let us consider the other side. Only being purely materialistic also will not work. Without practicing
spirituality a materialist cannot attain the ultimate aim of life. Materialists think that by accumulating lots of wealth
and material items that give pleasure one will attain happiness. However, experience tells us that the more material
wealth we accumulate the more we become stressed, and due to the lack of spirituality, unfortunately, we need
sleeping pills to sleep.  A coolie, in India, on the other hand, has a very sound sleep on the footpath. Suicidal rate is
found to be the highest in the most prosperous countries like the USA. In every 10 minutes there is a shooting, in
every 7 second there is a robbery and 70% of the youth take drugs or alcohol. Most marriages hardly last for 4 years,
people divorce and get remarried multiple times. So we can see that there are a lot of problems because of
materialism. To release the tension, many people these days are turning towards Indian philosophy.

   Therefore, without the rise of spirituality, materialism by itself cannot bring any amount of inner peace or
happiness which happens to be our main aim in life. If sense gratification would have given happiness to our souls,
then, since time immemorial, many affluent people would have attained perfect peace and happiness. That
establishes that materialism cannot operate without spirituality. Despite having a very healthy body if one does not
give the subject of the soul to the soul one will always remain tensed and stressed out.
   Continuously new desires will pop up and the satisfaction of the desires will lead to greed while dissatisfaction of
the desires will lead to anger and we will always remain unhappy. So, being spiritual is essential. In the stone ages,
there was never so much restlessness as we witness in today's age. People never used to have doors or windows,
what to say of locks and alarms. But today even in broad daylight robberies take place in the banks where security is
so tight. This shows how dirty our minds have become. It is evident that in today's age, due to the lack of
spirituality, all sorts of negativity are on the rise like cheating, deception and crime.
     In the world either a person should naturally have great spiritual shakti that he may never commit any crime or
have the fear of consequence for doing wrong. That is why many atheists and western philosophers have also said
that even if God does not exist, one should create an imaginary God, so that out of his fear one would refrain from
doing the sin. Once, Dwight Eisenhower, the former US President, during his visit to India, said that God has given
us a lot of material power but unless God gives us the right intellect to use these powers we will not be able to
make proper use of it. Thus, without the right intellect and lack of spirituality we abuse the great powers which are
the gifts of God.

    No doubt material advancement has given us great technology, like the T.V; and the entire world is benefiting
from it greatly.  However, only if spirituality would have also been rising, then we would not be facing all the
wickedness that we are facing today. With the rise of spirituality, we would have had the right intellect to utilize the
material science and technology only for our welfare and not to destroy or cause harm to others. Because we did not
advance spiritually our hearts and mind did not become pure and faultless and this is the reason why we are
abusing material science and technology. Suppose, materially we advance so much that every house gets built in
gold studded with diamonds; but on the other hand, the means to destroy those would also keep on increasing. In
such a case it may take a thousand years to build something good, but it would take only a second to destroy. In
this manner, the entire world will be destroyed.  Nobody will be alive. That way, we will have neither the
materialists nor the materialism. That is why, in this present age, spirituality is most essential so that our intellect
does not turn towards destruction. Or else, scientific progress will destroy us.

    It is absolutely marvelous that today we can be in touch with our loved ones in faraway places through phones,
emails, Facebook and Skype. In the olden days there were no means to send a letter. Then postal delivery started in
limited areas only, then planes started flying and the method of delivery became more advanced. Subsequently,
telephones were introduced. Then came mobile phones which became so handy. A lot of our inconveniences got
taken care of. People no longer have to suffer the extremities of weather because of air conditioners and heaters.
   However, along with all these great scientific material progresses, our mental and intellectual condition, our
feelings of love and hatred lead to the diminution of spiritual proliferation. This way we are abusing the advanced
scientific knowledge as a means to destroy everything. We are also paving the way for this scientific knowledge to
cause its own devastation. So without spiritual progress even if we reach the moon we will still not attain any peace.
This is the reason why without spiritual progress material progress is absolutely meaningless. Spiritual progress is a
must for peace and happiness; there is absolutely no other way. Mere talk is not good enough for our spiritual
progress we need to embrace and practice spirituality.

    Conclusion is that both our body and soul are contradictory entities and we need to give them the right subjects.
We can never satisfy the material body by giving it subjects for spirituality, and we can never satisfy the divine soul
by giving it the subjects of materialism. We as individual souls are continuously seeking for unlimited and
everlasting happiness. Even if we become lord of the entire world we can never attain the happiness we are looking
for. Simple reason being that God alone is that unlimited, everlasting happiness and only on attaining God can we
become perfectly happy.
    Therefore, it becomes absolutely essential for us to synthesize both God and the World. We need to walk along
with both materialism and spirituality in the journey of our lives, giving the soul and body their respective subjects.
Those spiritualists who say that there is no need for the world are wrong and the materialists who say that there is
no need for God are also wrong.  Being biased will not solve the problem. Materialism and spirituality need to go
hand in hand and we must reconcile both.  Only then, one day we can attain our ultimate goal and become perfectly

(An excerpt from the teachings of Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj)
Gopeshwari Didi
Copyright 2011 Universal Society of Bhakti Meditation