This is the final talk in the series. In our journey so far we explored the following:
The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed, and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. Gus Speth – Environmental Scientist
In the 1920’s, Banker Paul Mazur of Lehman Brothers famously wrote: “We must shift America from a needs, to a desires culture. People must be trained to desire….. Man’s desires must overshadow his needs.”
In 1970, British Economist E.F. Schumacher wrote: “Economic progress, [the economist] Keynes counselled, is obtainable only if we employ those powerful human drives of envy and selfishness, which religion and traditional wisdom universally call upon us to resist. The modem economy is propelled by a frenzy of greed and indulges in an orgy of envy, and these are not accidental features but the very causes of its expansionist success. The question is whether such causes can be effective for long or whether they carry within themselves the seeds of destruction.”
In 2002, Adam Curtis, the writer, and producer of the BBC documentary series – The Century of the Self, presented through this work “the story of the rise of an idea that has come to dominate our society. It is the belief that satisfaction of individual feelings and desires is our highest priority.”
Messaging produced by the consumer “revolution” deeply affects us all. But since ancient times, Yoga wisdom has taught that restraint, plus spiritual practice, leads to self-realization and happiness and that –
Feeding one’s appetites increases avidya (ignorance) and contributes to a false-identity and our unhappiness.
Since time immemorial, all spiritual messaging from different traditions is for us to move away from absorption in the false-self and make the shift towards self-realization. A shift from self-centeredness towards selflessness. From serving myself to serving the Supreme Soul (God) and my fellowman.
The Dalai Lama wrote that to become happy all people must have purpose and they must serve.
Of course, that purpose must be “bigger than myself”.
In the end, it all boils down to what my purpose in life is. The great spiritual teacher Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu has advised:
One who has taken his birth as a human being …. should make his life successful and work for the benefit of all other people.
It is the duty of every living being to perform welfare activities for the benefit of others with his life, wealth, intelligence, and words.
By his work, thoughts, and words, an intelligent man must perform actions which will be beneficial for all living entities in this life and the next.
Śrī Caitanya-caritāmṛta – Ādi-līlā 9.41-43