Excerpts from books, lectures, and videos by Jagad Guru Chris Butler (Siddhaswarupananda Paramahamsa)
Ever-Increasing Material Consumption
Due to the desire for sense pleasure, people try to conquer nature but end up destroying the world.
No matter how much sensual pleasure people have, no matter how much they consume, they always want more. This endless personal craving manifests as ever increasing material consumption.
There is more than enough food, water, fuel and so on to satisfy the actual needs of everyone on the planet. But there is not enough to satisfy everyone's 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.
Even if it were physically possible for you to consume all the food, water, and fuel in the world, you still would not be satisfied. “Material food” cannot satisfy spiritual craving.
When we understand that we are not the material body, but are spiritual in essence, we can understand that we need spiritual nourishment and fulfilment. When we grasp the fact that we are spiritual in essence, it is easy to understand why material sense enjoyment or “material food” cannot satisfy our inner spiritual craving.
A Life Spent in the Pursuit of Sense Pleasure Is a Wasted Life
Sense pleasure, although real, is quite superficial. It comes and goes quickly. It cannot compare to the sweet taste of spiritual love.
Sense gratification is not “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.
A life spent in the pursuit of sense pleasure is a wasted life. It is like spending one’s life chasing a mirage.
For one who lives a hedonistic life, a life in which nescience is cultivated, the results are envy, anger, greed, impatience, disrespect for others, anxiety, depression, hatred, ever-increasing lust, forgetfulness, frustration, dissatisfaction, duplicity, fear of death, and so on.
For a Person Who Cultivates Wisdom, the Result Is Inner Peace
On the other hand, for a person who cultivates wisdom or true knowledge, the results are inner peace, satisfaction, patience, respect for others, freedom from duplicity, compassion, joyfulness, remembrance of his spiritual identity, freedom from the fear of death, freedom from anxiety and depression, and so on.
Removal of fear and anguish from the heart creates the experience of real freedom. Just as the suffering caused by ignorance can never be described adequately, neither can the joy born out of wisdom.
Pleasure or blissfulness is not bad. To be blissful is our natural condition. But where will we find such pleasure, such bliss? Spiritual teachers state that happiness is to be found in loving devotional service to the Absolute Whole—not in the glittering but temporary goodies of this material world.
The symptom of a full, happy person is that he is always giving. His cup is overflowing. If someone feels he has enough, then he can give to others.
How to Have a Peaceful, Progressive Society
The negative social results of a society populated primarily by hedonistic people should be obvious to anyone. A society of self-centered, animalistic people who have no other interest than their own sense enjoyment cannot be at all peaceful or progressive—either materially or spiritually.
On the other hand, the positive results of a society populated mostly by people who are serious about cultivating wisdom and spiritual understanding should be clear. If the citizens are peaceful, satisfied, respectful of others, compassionate, selfless, and so on, then society will be progressive both materially and spiritually.
Only one who can learn the process of nescience and that of transcendental knowledge side by side can transcend the influence of repeated birth and death and enjoy the full blessing of immortality.
~Sri Ishopanishad, Mantra Eleven
People cannot remain as materialistic, selfish people and have peace and harmony in the family, society, or world.
There can never be harmony if we live like animals. We cannot have the consciousness of animals and yet have the peace of humans.
For the world to be peaceful, we have to be peaceful within ourselves.