“We see materialistic persons busily engaged in economic development all day and all night, trying to increase their material opulence, but even if we suppose that they get some benefit from such endeavors, that does not solve the real problem of their lives. Nor do they know what the real problem of life is. This is due to a lack of spiritual education.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.6.4 Purport)
“It is said that to advance in Krishna consciousness, which is the science of self-realization, one should not overly endeavor in material affairs. That makes sense, to an extent. I shouldn’t be so worried about the stock market, how my investments are faring. The price of commodities fluctuates, moving up and down like the waves of the ocean.
“I shouldn’t be overly concerned with the type of food that I eat. Whatever is necessary to keep body and soul together – that will suffice. I can sleep on the floor, if needed. I shouldn’t be so concerned with lifestyle, in terms of enjoyment.
“At the same time, we hear advancement generally described in the negative. The person who works so hard day and night to make a better automobile – what a waste of time. That guy who travelled for hours each day to the office to help build a company from scratch – what did it really get him?
“To me, however, that line of thinking would entirely eliminate the impetus for work. Not everyone can buy some land and start a farm. They wouldn’t know how to survive on their own, living off the grid. If they have to work within the system, as it stands today, they must have some interest in what they are doing. Otherwise, no one will hire them. How do we reconcile?”
In the more advanced view, a person appreciates everything around them. As an example, when the gopis of Vrindavana hear the sweet sound of Krishna’s flute, they immediately think of everything involved in the creation of that flute. The wood, the tree, the neighboring grass, the adjacent river – everything is part of the complete picture.
In the same way, while not overly endeavoring in the area of material advancement, I can appreciate the work that others have put in. I can find a way to advance spiritually utilizing the products of their intelligence. Everything didn’t necessarily go to waste, since they indirectly assisted me in my progress towards enlightenment.
1. The keyboard
“I am so proficient with the keyboard, that I almost don’t know how to write with a pen and paper anymore. I have trouble signing my name on receipts. Filling out forms by hand is not easy. I don’t view this as a negative, since through typing the output is voluminous and frequent.
“This is a wonderful advancement, I believe. The world has benefitted, and so have I. I can now more easily glorify the all-attractive one, who speaks every language there is. He can understand my prayers offered in the only language I can proficiently produce.”
“An old woman in Vrindavana, present at the time of Krishna’s pastimes, once stated in surprise: ‘How wonderful it is that Krishna, who owns the hearts of all the young girls of Brajabhumi, can nicely speak the language of Brajabhumi with the gopis, while in Sanskrit He speaks with the demigods, and in the language of the animals He can even speak with the cows and buffalo! Similarly, in the language of the Kashmere Province, and with the parrots and other birds, as well as in most common languages, Krishna is so expressive!’” (The Nectar Of Devotion, Ch 21)
2. The smartphone
“I realize that people are too addicted to this nowadays. It causes traffic accidents. It leads to blurred vision. There are less social skills in the younger generation, as they can barely conduct an in-person conversation.
“At the same time, I have benefitted tremendously. If I come across an interesting passage from Bhagavad-gita or Shrimad Bhagavatam, I can easily save a note. I don’t have to fetch pen and paper. I can later search through my electronic notes.
“I can worship while travelling, as I have beautiful pictures saved of the Supreme Lord and His associates. A massive library of books stored on a single device, ready to be accessed at any time.”
“I think that this has been good for me. I am no longer afraid to travel to new places, for fear of getting lost. First it was the standalone device, and more recently the feature is embedded within the smartphone. I can discover a brand new city without having to write down directions or ask people for assistance. I feel so blessed.”
4. Digital music
“I can hear the maha-mantra whenever I want: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare. From morning until night, the songs keep playing. I no longer have to switch out discs from a standalone player. In the past, there were no such recordings available, and today just see the difference. This has been a blessing.”
5. The large monitor
“I was so proud of myself. For the longest time, I worked off the same laptop computer, with a small desk, and one of those folding chairs. I constantly referred to it as a ‘steel chair,’, to pay homage to the classic professional wrestling gimmick.
“After switching jobs, I found myself working with a desktop computer during the day, attached to two large monitors. The experience was so good that I finally gave up my pride in renunciation. I got the same upgrades for home, and I have never looked back.
“I try not to be attached to newer technology, but at least I can see clearly now. The beautiful images stored of the Supreme Lord and His associates are vibrant and almost come to life. I can even read collected works published online; my eyes do not strain.”
For proper purpose to use,
Then connection not to lose.
Though progress another made,
Homage subtly this way paid.
When with yoga process connected,
For pleasure of Krishna directed.
Then filled with appreciation,
Focused on proper application.