We are in a time of economic prosperity, no one is interested in going to churches or temples. “What is this nonsense?” people think. “Why should I go to the church to ask for bread? We shall develop our economic condition, and then there will be a sufficient supply of bread.”
In one sense, of course, material opulence is God’s grace. To take birth in a very aristocratic family or nation like America, to be very rich, to be advanced in knowledge and education, and to be endowed with beauty are gifts of pious activities. A rich man attracts the attention of others, whereas a poor man does not. An educated man attracts attention, but a fool attracts no attention at all. Materially, therefore, such opulence is very beneficial. But when a person is materially opulent in this way, he becomes intoxicated: “Oh, I am a rich man. I am an educated man. I have money.” One who drinks wine will become intoxicated and may think that he is flying in the sky or that he has gone to heaven. These are effects of intoxication. But an intoxicated person does not know that all these dreams are within the limits of time and will, therefore, come to an end. Because he is unaware that these dreams will not continue, he is said to be an illusion. Similarly, one is intoxicated by thinking, “I am very rich, I am very educated and beautiful, and I have taken birth in an aristocratic family in a great nation.” That’s all right, but how long will these advantages exist?
Suppose one is an American and is also rich, beautiful, and advanced in knowledge. One may be proud of all this, but how long will this intoxication exist? As soon as the body is finished, it will all be finished, just like the intoxicated dreams of a person who has been drinking. These dreams are on the mental platform, the egoistic platform, and the bodily platform. But I am not the body. The gross body and subtle body are different from my actual self. The gross body is made of earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and the subtle body is made of mind, intelligence, and false ego. But the living being is transcendental to these eight elements, which are described in the Bhagavad-gita as the inferior energy of God.
Even if one is mentally very advanced, he does not know that he is under the influence of the inferior energy, just as an intoxicated person does not know what condition he is in. Opulence, therefore, places one in a position of intoxication. We are already intoxicated, and modern civilization aims at increasing our intoxication. In truth, we should become free from this intoxication, but modern civilization aims at increasing it so that we may become more and more intoxicated and go to hell. Kuntidevi says that those who are intoxicated in this way cannot feelingly address the Lord. They cannot feelingly say, jaya radha-madhava: “All glories to Radha and Krishna!” They have lost their spiritual feeling. They cannot feelingly address the Lord, because they do not have knowledge. “Oh, God is for the poor man,” they think. “The poor do not have sufficient food. Let them go to the church and pray, ‘0 God, give us our daily bread.’ But I have enough bread. Why should I go to church?” This is their opinion.
Source: A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada (2014 edition), “Teachings of Queen Kunti”, Page 58 & 59
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