Excerpts from Pearls of Wisdom book by Siddhaswarupananda
~by Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa
In this world, people are always fighting over property. They want to stake their claims of ownership on both the living and the nonliving. According to the Sri Ishopanishad, these
people are like thieves fighting over stolen loot. If we look at the question from the relatively short-term view, we may find it hard to accept that no one is really an owner of
anything. But if we adopt the point of view of the Sri Ishopanishada which sees the universe
not in terms of decades, centuries, or even thousands of years, but in terms of many millions of years then we can understand this point.
There is enough in the world to fulfill everyones needs, but not enough to fulfill everyones greed. In some parts of the world, people are dying from severe undernourishment, while in other parts of the world people are dying from obesity.
Why does a person claim ownership of a thing or of another person? To control it or them. And why does he want to control it? Usually because he wants to be the enjoyer of it.
Unfortunately, a person who is materialistic, greedy, and self-worshiping wants to take the place of God. He sees himself as the center of the universe. He sees everything and everyone the world, people, his family, animals, plants, the environment as revolving around him.
He sees everything and everyone as meant for his enjoyment. The world is full of such exploitative
people, and they cause so many problems.
If a person sees himself as the Supreme Enjoyer, he will automatically live a life of exploitation.
He will not respect others or the environment, nor will he care for the well-being of others. He
will lead a hedonistic life of unrestricted sense enjoyment, lording over everything and everyone.
Although human in form, he will be no more than an animal who lives by the philosophy might makes right?
There is nothing more dangerous to real religion than fanatics who seek to lord over others
by force in the name of God.
In his book Small Is Beautiful, noted British economist E. F. Schumacher wrote:
Insights of wisdom enable us to see the hollowness and fundamental unsatisfactoriness of a life
devoted primarily to the pursuit of material ends, to the neglect of the spiritual. Such a life
necessarily sets man against man and nation against nation, because mans needs are infinite and
infinitude can be achieved only in the spiritual realm, never in the material.*
It is a fact that no matter how much sense gratification a person gets, he will never be satisfied.
Material food, material things, material sense gratification cannot satisfy the atma (spirit soul).
Just as the body needs material food, so the spirit soul needs spiritual food. To try to satisfy ones
spiritual craving with material things leads to endless consumption, greed, envy, violence, and war.
Western people have as much sense gratification as one could ever want, yet they are not satisfied.
Why? Because they are spiritually empty.
* E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), p. 38.
Many people practice tai chi, chi gong, and so on with the aim of keeping their bodies fit for a long
time. There is certainly nothing wrong with keeping ones body fit indeed, it is one of the aims of
yoga but unfortunately, many such people are trying to run away from the inevitable death of the body.
Some mystic yogis strive to keep their bodies alive forever but that is not possible. Even if one were
the greatest yogi and could keep his body alive for thousands of years, that still is not forever.
Those who engage in the culture of nescient activities shall enter into the darkest region of ignorance.
Worse still are those engaged in the culture of so-called knowledge.
~Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra 9
Unfortunately, most of humanity spends the majority of its time in the culture of ignorance. We cultivate
ignorance by serving our tongue, belly, genitals, and other senses like obedient slaves. The vast majority
of our energy goes into this mad pursuit of sense pleasure. Left with frazzled nerves, frustration, anger,
jealousy, envy, greed, hate, loneliness, and confusion; we seek an escape in alcohol, cocaine, heroin, and
a myriad of other legal and illegal consciousness dimmers. This is the cultivation of ignorance.
However, neither the Sri Ishopanishad nor any other Vedic literature recommends that we neglect bodily needs.
The Bhagavad-gita states:
There is no possibility of one becoming a yogi, O Arjuna, if one eats too much, or eats too little, sleeps
too much or does not sleep enough.
Nor is sense gratification considered. Sense gratification comes and goes as a natural occurrence of
Nor is sense gratification considered bad. Sense gratification comes and goes as a natural occurrence of
the senses. For example, one cannot eat without tasting. The point is that a life that is centered around
sense enjoyment, that makes sense enjoyment the goal, is a wasted life. Economic development is necessary
for the maintenance of the body; so therefore it cannot be neglected. But to seek economic development simply
for the sake of endlessly increasing sensual pleasure is foolish. No amount of sensual pleasure will ever
really satisfy a person, so no amount of economic development will ever be considered enough. This is why
people in modern Western societies are still not satisfied, even though they are so economically advanced and
thus have so much facility for sense enjoyment. They always want more.
This is why people in modern Western societies are still not satisfied, even though they are so economically
advanced and thus have so much facility for sense enjoyment. They always want more. As the late British
economist E. F. Schumacher points out:
Is there enough to go round? Immediately we encounter a serious difficulty: What is enough? Who can tell us?
Certainly not the economist who pursues economic growth as the highest of all values and therefore has no
concept of enough There are poor societies which have too little; but where is the rich society that says:
"Halt! We have enough There is none."
Whats really needed is to recognize the need for spiritual as well as material happiness. A society that has
great material prosperity but lacks spiritual purpose is really a poor society. A body without the soul is a
dead body even if it is nicely decorated with fancy ornaments.
*E. F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), p. 25.
~Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa (Chris Butler)
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