Materialism and Human Happiness

Materialist philosophy suggests that individuals despise themselves until they acquire all desired commodities. This notion raises critical questions: do we truly despise ourselves while alive, and do we seek happiness only after death? Materialism contradicts the fundamental principles of the human mind, advocating a pursuit of happiness that is ultimately unfulfilling.

The Indian Perspective: Religion and Ethics

Indian philosophy integrates religion and ethics, teaching that a wantless and selfless life is the key to true happiness. Human nature tends towards a luxurious life, driven by the pursuit of power and money. These desires, rooted in imagination, often lead to misery when unfulfilled. Moreover, satisfying one desire typically spawns new desires, perpetuating a cycle of dissatisfaction and suffering. This relentless pursuit highlights the inadequacy of material satisfaction in achieving lasting happiness.

The State of Wantlessness

Wantlessness is a mental state free from the pains and pleasures associated with unfulfilled desires. True happiness is more than the absence of sorrow; it is a state of being devoid of pain. When pain is eliminated, happiness reaches its peak. This ultimate goal of human conduct contrasts with the temporary pleasures that materialism offers. Wantlessness implies a degree of fulfillment where new cravings cease to arise, and comfort is no longer dependent on external luxuries.

Overcoming Desires

To achieve wantlessness, one must master their physical existence by understanding the fleeting nature of happiness derived from external desires. Materialism, which suggests that satisfaction comes from accumulating commodities, opposes the belief that life’s essence cannot be found in material things. Wantlessness allows individuals to release their dependence on external sources of happiness, fostering self-respect and self-love.

The Futility of Materialism

Materialism sets an unattainable goal, constantly out of reach. The pursuit of happiness should prioritize minimal desires over material accumulation. While living without any desires is challenging, the goal of wantlessness becomes attainable when one identifies and eliminates unnecessary wants. Studies show that materialism fosters competition, manipulation, and selfishness, ultimately promoting individualism and self-centered goals.

The Contradiction in Modern Spirituality

Modern spiritual leaders often advocate for wantlessness and selflessness while simultaneously commercializing their teachings. This corporatization of religion underscores the contradiction in promoting spiritual values through material means.
The Wisdom of Buddha

Buddha’s observation that desire is the root of misery resonates with the pitfalls of consumerism. The endless craving for more prevents true satisfaction. Understanding that materialism offers only temporary happiness helps diminish its allure. Introspection and inner exploration are necessary to overcome the distractions of excessive desires.

The Challenge of Unchecked Desires

Excessive desires can lead to distraction and drained energy, preventing meaningful achievements. The issue is not the presence of desire but the overabundance of it. Whether it’s financial aspirations, relationships, or education, unfulfilled desires create a sense of lack and frustration.

The Role of Reformers

Reformers and change agents, driven by the desire for a better world, must balance their aspirations with realistic expectations. While we cannot achieve a perfect world, striving for improvement is essential.

Conclusion: The Ideal of Wantlessness

The ideology of wantlessness is idealistic but offers a profound contrast to the chimera of materialism. While certain material goods may ease life, they are not essential for survival. True fulfillment lies in expanding love and selflessness, as Swami Vivekananda eloquently stated:

“All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore, love for love’s sake, because it is the only law of life, just as you breathe to live.”

Anonymous Changed status to publish June 2, 2024