“The four principal bodily demands – eating, sleeping, mating and defending – can be satisfied under any circumstances, whether one is born in an impious condition or in a pious condition. The problem, however, is how to become free from the four principles of birth, death, old age and disease.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Easy Journey to Other Planets, Ch 2)
“You have no idea what life is like in that country. I’ve been there. I’ve seen their poverty. They don’t have any electronics, whatsoever. Their restrooms are unbelievably small compared to ours. The people rely on the food that they produce on their land. There are hardly any restaurants. You can’t import so many things. The people use a well for water. There is no such thing as indoor plumbing. I feel so bad for them. People in our country have no idea how poor these people are. We could never live like them.”
Indeed, wealth in modern times is determined by net worth, the total value of all material possessions. A person living on a small plot of land obviously doesn’t have a high net worth. They are pitied for their less than extravagant way of life, but they are still eating. In one nation there is plenty of food to eat. In another, there is just enough. The former is considered wealthy and the latter indigent, but is there a meaningful difference?
Consider the supermarket. If we had to list what we needed to survive in terms of food, we surely wouldn’t think of having ten different kinds of pasta. We also wouldn’t have three or four different brands of milk. Just some basic bread, milk, water, fruits and vegetables would suffice. The meat eater also wouldn’t insist on such variety, for who actually purchases every product of every brand that is sold?
And yet the supermarket has so many brands. If you want gluten free pasta, you can buy it. It is in stock in most stores. If you want skim milk, that is available too. Someone else wants the full fat milk, which there is plenty of. The supermarket has so many varieties due to demand. There are people to buy the various products, and so the supply meets the demand.
In another part of the world, the variety isn’t so much, but the people eat nevertheless. Even in past ages, when there wasn’t the supermarket, the citizens ate. Thus the overabundance of food in one era doesn’t necessarily make a difference in quality of life, as food is necessary for survival. If the people are eating, they are living.
Does the greater supply of food solve problems? Basic observation answers the question. In the nations that feature the supermarket and its endless variety, is everyone happy? Is strife conspicuous by its absence? Are there no problems? In actuality, there are constant problems, with one of the biggest being apathy in the citizens. There is such an abundance of material wealth that people have time to be upset over what singers say, what they wear, and with whom they enjoy. Others then lament the degradation of the culture, and how there is no belief in a higher power. The erosion of moral principles is a cause for concern to those who are righteously situated. And this all takes place in a land with an overabundance of food.
Envy increases when there is so much to go around. One person is jealous over what someone else has, though the envious person has plenty already. One business doesn’t like the other that is winning the competition for profit. The poor man envies the rich, and the rich man bemoans the high tax rates. Thus everyone is constantly unsettled, envious of their neighbor even and the car they drive.
For a sober analysis, the object for comparison needn’t even be the poor nation. The animals have enough food to eat. They are not considered poor. There is no such thing as a rich tiger. Through nature’s arrangement, every kind of species finds ways to get what they need to survive. Some live longer than others for sure, but that is true of the more intelligent human species as well.
Real advancement occurs with consciousness. The more developed one’s consciousness, the more superior they are in comparison with others. The fully developed consciousness always thinks of God. The symptoms of such a mindset are kindness, perseverance, tolerance, knowledge, compassion, and commitment to the truth. The politician has to lie from time to time in order to survive. The truth is often times unpalatable to hear, and if the citizens are offended by a particular statement they will not vote for the offending party. The businessman must also lie, for if they revealed just how much profit they were making selling a product or service, their sales could be hurt.
“As a rich man has his symptoms by which he is known as a rich man, as a diseased man has his symptoms by which he is known as diseased, or as a learned man has his symptoms, so a man in transcendental consciousness of Krishna has specific symptoms in various dealings. One can know his specific symptoms from the Bhagavad-gita. Most important is how the man in Krishna consciousness speaks; for speech is the most important quality of any man.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Bhagavad-gita, 2.54 Purport)
In God consciousness, there is no place for dishonesty. The ultimate truth is the Supreme Lord Himself. The God conscious person always speaks of such a supreme being, so they are always on the side of truth. They may run a business or hold political office even, but on the most important matter of the meaning of life and how to go about fulfilling it, they never shy away from speaking the undeniable fact that every spirit soul is inherently connected to the Absolute Truth through a similarity in quality. Every individual is godlike; eternal, blissful and knowledgeable. The difference is in the quantitative output of such qualities. In God the quantity is so great that it is unfathomable. In the individual it is great too, but there is a limit. The blissfulness and knowledge can be masked and the various forms assumed in the material world are temporary.
To keep the soul within the temporary body, each individual requires their own level of food intake. One person eats a single slice of pizza, while another requires an entire pie. Real rich and poor are not determined by the difference in consumption, and neither are they based on a marginal difference in availability. The superior person is one who has reached the pinnacle of consciousness. They are so kind that they teach others how to reach it as well, which allows the recipient to remove the illusion of rich versus poor.
Supply in food supermarket has much,
In poor nation not same variety as such.
That difference between two is presumption,
Based solely on level of consumption.
But actually eat both of them do,
Pain, misery, envy for them too.
Real advancement in consciousness only,
Fortunate thinks of God in time every.