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Part Three
The Nature of Bliss II


The Materialists
It is easiest to discuss the nature of something, which because of its eternal nature is hard to describe with words, which are limited, in terms of opposites. For thousands of years, humans have been debating the nature of happiness. All such debates that are centered on the attainment of pleasure, of happiness, can be reduced to two categories. Kripalu Maharaj calls these categories are spiritualism and materialism.

The materialists, under which category the agnostics also can be placed, believe that the origin, maintenance and dissolution of the universe all function in accordance with the 'laws of nature.' And “nature” is, for them, comprised of earth, water, fire, and air. Thus, the concept of God is, to the materialists, strictly the product of the weak mind. Weak, 'uneducated' minds, then, create the concept of God, and not the other way around.

An extension of this materialist conception of the world is that happiness can be obtained when a person obtain those worldly objects to be desirable. Whereas the materialist might claim that the attainment of whatever material end had been sought after will result in happiness, the spiritualist will counter that that such happiness is only temporary. And this type of “success” is most often followed by even more urgent desires, and thus the cycle of wanting or “needing” and the struggle for attainment is perpetuated. As the Prem Ras Siddhant suggests, there is no example on all of history of the materialist who has attained complete fulfillment or bliss merely by acquiring all sought after material objects, status, and even 'love.'

In spite of this, materialists claim to have made great progress. As examples, they cite the advances of modern medicine which have helped to eradicated some disease (although it would seem that when one disease is eradicated, another turns up elsewhere), because he can travel around the world in planes and boats and cars, because we have some capacity to control our environment. Yet any expert would be able to cite thousands of examples of how we become the victims of our materialism. Our so called advances have a way of coming full circle and causing new problems and new suffering. To look at the harm and havoc which humanity has wrecked on the environment, and the human suffering that this has caused anew, is alone, sufficient as an example of how materialism returns to harm us.

Material progress does nothing to purify the heart and the condition of the soul. This is because peace and happiness are internal conditions. While it cannot be argued that certain material objects are required to live, maintain, and sustain the body, the constant outward projection of thoughts and energy to an ever more complex web of materialist enterprises is clearly not the way to secure happiness.