“The living entities in this conditioned world are My eternal, fragmental parts. Due to conditioned life, they are struggling very hard with the six senses, which include the mind.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.7)
ममैवांशो जीवलोके जीवभूतः सनातनः।
मनःषष्ठानीन्द्रियाणि प्रकृतिस्थानि कर्षति।।
mamaivāṃśo jīvaloke jīvabhūtaḥ sanātanaḥ।
manaḥṣaṣṭhānīndriyāṇi prakṛtisthāni karṣati।।
Friend1: In today’s edition I am going to throw a series of issues at you and you tell me whether or not the resolution will bring happiness.
Friend2: At the individual level or to a society in general?
Friend1: Let’s say it’s for society. Issue number 1. Curing disease.
Friend2: Which kind?
Friend1: Take whatever is the leading killer among adults. Trusting that statistic, say that we are able to solve the problem.
Friend2: As in eliminate the disease? No one is afflicted again or just that there is treatment available to handle the situation?
Friend1: Treatment. If you are diagnosed with that disease, you will most likely be able to live through it.
Friend2: Ah, but of course there is a glaring flaw in that logic.
Friend1: I know, I know. No one actually lives through anything. But you know what I mean. That particular disease gets eliminated and the person is afterwards considered healthy.
Friend2: Okay. In answer to your original question, that will not make people happy.
Friend1: How can you say that? What is your justification?
Friend2: Because so many diseases of the past that plagued the world no longer do so today. They are essentially eradicated. Let me ask you, are people happy?
Friend2: And why not?
Friend1: Because there are other problems, including diseases.
Friend2: Thank you.
Friend1: Issue number 2. Having enough money. This is for happiness at the personal level.
Friend2: Define “enough.” Sufficient for paying for necessities? Or something like winning a million dollars?
Friend1: I no longer have to work. I can retire today, if I wanted. Using the safe-withdrawal-rate calculation, I will be fine indefinitely into the future.
Friend2: That’s great. Once again, the answer is “no.”
Friend1: Please provide evidence.
Friend2: You meet miserable wealthy people all the time. Even if you never have to work again, you need something to do. The consciousness is still there. Financial planners have conducted studies. They find that the early retirees tend to not live as long.
Friend1: Issue number 3. Enough money for everyone around me.
Friend2: As in, you have cured poverty?
Friend1: Yes. There you go. No more struggle.
Friend2: Of course my answer is the same. You have taken the same question and applied it across society as a whole. If you want evidence, just look at industrialized nations. They are far advanced in terms of material wealth. Yet they are still obsessed about the supposed poorer classes, who are “suffering” with air conditioning, high speed internet, an automobile, and a dishwasher.
Friend1: What is your answer, then?
Friend2: Touched on it before. Consciousness. That is the key. Turning from material to spiritual. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that even if people are given all facilities of material need, unrest will continue. The end is only through spiritual satisfaction.
Friend1: I see. That might explain why you see people who have very little often be quite content and satisfied.
Friend2: That is the wisdom of the ages passed on by the saints of the Vedic tradition. Meet the needs of the soul first. The rest is like a giant illusion. You are always comparing yourself to others, but in the end it shouldn’t matter what others have. Whatever the temporary position at the moment, it is like playing a role in a movie. Once the performance ends, the characters return to reality. In the same way, the true reality is spiritual life, which lies behind the curtain of maya. Find transcendence through connecting with the holy sounds: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. This brings the spiritual consciousness, which will hopefully continue through an increasing desire to relish the taste again and again.
Problem solved just this one,
Then struggles forward none.
Poverty stricken people where,
Financial assistance there.
Eradicate this disease dreaded,
To not happiness then headed?
Struggle always there to remain,
Safe only when bhakti to gain.