“In this material world there is a great illusion which covers real intelligence. A man in the mode of passion wants to work very hard to derive some benefit, but he does not know that time will never allow him to enjoy anything permanently. Compared with the work one expends, the gain is not so profitable. Even if it is profitable, it is not without its distresses.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 4.25.4 Purport)
They say you should put down at least twenty percent. Otherwise, there is the penalty known as PMI. This is the bank’s way of hedging their bet. If they lend money to someone who has too much debt to steadily pay it off over time, then they want some way to recoup the losses. If you have at least twenty percent of the purchase price in a down payment, the bank feels more comfortable with the transaction.
With the typical thirty-year fixed mortgage, there is a considerable length of time before the house is yours. Even then, it’s not really. There are property taxes. Miss one of those payments and the government will seize your house and put it up for auction. Never mind how much you paid into it. They have no sympathy for the thousands of dollars in interest you spent over the thirty years.
The house is a kind of achievement. Usually, a person has to work very hard to get one. There is a period of saving up. Then during the time of the mortgage there is constant distress over having to make the payment each month.
A similar process, but with less time dedicated. Here the issue is with the rapidly changing world of technology. The car you purchased five years ago was state of the art, at the time. Cruise control. Power steering. Power windows and locks. A DVD player in the back for the children to use on long trips.
The newest cars have a camera in the rear, to help with parking. There is “lane assist,” which warns you if there are cars in the lanes that you want to turn into. The entertainment system integrates with your smartphone, which makes it much easier to listen to music and communicate with others.
That first car you worked so hard to purchase is now an ancient relic. Time to upgrade. The interest from the bank loan is money lost. The monthly payment is around the same, no matter what kind of car you drive.
3. Electronic gadgets
Smartphones. Tablets. Notebook computers. Similar to the cycle of purchasing and selling automobiles, the newest technological gadget only stays relevant for a certain period of time. You can try holding on to it for as long as you can, but eventually the manufacturer stops supporting it. They have moved on, and they want you to do the same.
This review is one way of noticing the folly of material sense gratification. With so much effort invested, the return is not very good. How much time is there to really enjoy the house? Most of the time at home is spent sleeping; meaning you are not even consciously aware of your surroundings. The time in the car is likely stressful, especially during rush hour commutes.
The gadgets work fine for a while, but with an upgrade to the software the entire layout changes. Your previous habits cannot be maintained. While you used to pull up the music app to quickly listen to songs you liked, now it takes three or four times the effort to do the same. The options are now to either complain or search for a third party app which will replicate the previous layout.
Narada Muni asked King Pracinabarhishat what the purpose of activity for material gain was, since happiness and the removal of distresses are the goal. With karma there is actually always some kind of misery. Since there is little peace, there is no chance of true happiness.
नास्ति बुद्धिर् अयुक्तस्य
न चायुक्तस्य भावना
न चाभावयतः शान्तिर्
अशान्तस्य कुतः सुखम्
nāsti buddhir ayuktasya
na cāyuktasya bhāvanā
na cābhāvayataḥ śāntir
aśāntasya kutaḥ sukham
“One who is not in transcendental consciousness can have neither a controlled mind nor steady intelligence, without which there is no possibility of peace. And how can there be any happiness without peace?” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 2.66)
Therefore the wise person takes a different path. Known as nivritti-marga in Sanskrit, it is the way designed for the rational and intelligent human being. Every person has the potential to reach this standard, which distinguishes the type of birth from animal life. That is to say the animals know only pravritti-marga, which is enjoying the senses.
Implement some sort of restriction. Not for punishing yourself. Not for winning a contest of vairagya, to show off to your friends. Rather, follow a disciplined way of life in order to experience the highest bliss. Along with the restrictions are the recommendations for activities. These resemble karma, or fruitive activity, but are in fact spiritual in nature.
The bhakti way of life is karma-free, as the development of a future material body ceases. The results to the activities are dedicated to the Supreme Personality of Godhead, whose happiness means everything. The same work output for enjoying homes, cars and other such things yields a much higher benefit when directed towards Bhagavan. The distresses are less, and the influence of time is not a factor, since God and devotion to Him are themselves timeless.
Benefit to efforts made tireless,
Since God and bhakti themselves timeless.
Not with other objectives so,
Since with great difficulty to go.
Not allowing enjoyment’s time,
Soon another upgrade to find.
Since happiness itself the goal,
In bhakti worth the toll.
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