“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)
Everything emanates from the Supreme Personality of Godhead. This is one side to the anadi property. God is without a beginning, and He is also the original person. He is both the origin and someone without an origin. He has no eyes, but He can see everything. He has no ears, but He hears every prayer offered to Him throughout the universes, sometimes overlapping one another.
अहं सर्वस्य प्रभवो
मत्तः सर्वं प्रवर्तते
इति मत्वा भजन्ते मां
ahaṁ sarvasya prabhavo
mattaḥ sarvaṁ pravartate
iti matvā bhajante māṁ
“I am the source of all spiritual and material worlds. Everything emanates from Me. The wise who know this perfectly engage in My devotional service and worship Me with all their hearts.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 10.8)
Since everything emanates from Him, there is a mechanism for appreciation for all that we encounter in the journey through life. The proper lens, so to speak, is to see with the eyes of shastra. The scriptural texts exist for the singular purpose of glorifying the original person. All other teachings, rules, regulations, and stories develop as a result of this purpose.
One of the teachings from the acharya, who always sees through the eyes of shastra, is that a living entity should avoid ugra-karma. Do not work tirelessly in a fruitless endeavor. Do not work so hard that you can barely function at the end of the day, giving in to intoxicants and sensual pleasures, only to repeat the same experience the next day.
This teaching might seem contradictory, given the purpose of glorifying God. We are surrounded by technological innovation. How should it be viewed? Is it positive or negative? Is it material or spiritual?
This is when I continue in the mindset that everything is for my own benefit. That computer is for satisfying the senses. That smartphone is to facilitate every sort of itching sensation I feel throughout the day. The automobile is for the adrenaline rush resulting from travelling as fast as possible, to the terror of other drivers on the road.
That television is for passing the time without investing effort. I live to watch television shows. I plan on playing every video game ever made. I will gamble on the big game tonight, hoping to enjoy the experience due to an investment in the outcome.
2. Substantial benefit
When viewed as having a separate existence from God, the object becomes material. It is never truly so, as the Supreme Lord is always the origin. Hence the designation as “misapplication.” If I use technology to further my forgetfulness of both the Almighty and my inherent relationship to Him, I am going in the wrong direction.
At the same time, just as we appreciate the artistic beauty of the creator evident in nature’s gifts, we can consider the advancements in technology to be tools to help break free from the illusion of maya. That large monitor with the newest technology helps me to see more clearly. I can more easily produce literature to further glorify God the person, who is attractive in every way.
The latest model of automobile allows me to more easily navigate my music library, which is filled with recordings of saintly people singing the holy names: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare.
If in the depths of despair, depressed over the state of the world, I can always pull up a beautiful painting of God and His associates, drawing inspiration from the kindness and compassion clearly evident from the interaction.
At the end of the day, I can appreciate the innovation, but not take it to be the ultimate goal of life. I am thankful others went through the effort, that they continue to try, but I will always rely on the mercy of Bhagavan. Wherever He places me, in whatever conditions, with many tools or barely any lighting, I will always stay connected to Him in yoga.
Wherever to place,
Never to erase.
The memory of face,
Glowing compassion and grace.
And serving the feet,
In whatever situation to meet.
Such that with technology or none,
Remembering from where to come.
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