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Balancing the spiritual and material in your life

One cannot even maintain his physical body without work.

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You will not find info on new cars, stock tips, low-cost health insurance, or hot new exercise trends on Does this mean we’re unbalanced, giving too much emphasis to the spiritual at the cost of people's “overall” or "real" life? What would happen if everybody just went off in search for spiritual enlightenment? Who would cook dinner?

But “life” means spiritual life. Without spirit, there isn't any life. “Material life” is an oxymoron, like “Anarchy Rules!” or “Safe Danger.”

We’re spirits inside material bodies. If we do something about our own spiritual life—like find out who we really are and what we're meant to do—life can only improve. We generally prefer consciousness to unconsciousness, except during surgery.

Putting zero effort into finding our true identity and purpose while keeping our bodies and minds pleasantly occupied is like always stopping for gas but never eating. What good is keeping our car's fuel tank full if we're starving?

How can we have a balanced spiritual diet, though, with all the stuff we have to do?

Krishna has something refreshing to say about this—just as you'd expect from someone with a reputation for omniscience. He devotes major time in the Bhagavad-gita to explaining how to take care of business and focus on the goal while we do it. This is His “balance of material and spiritual" advice:

Therefore, Arjuna, you should always think of Me in the form of Krishna and at the same time carry out your prescribed duty of fighting. With your activities dedicated to Me and your mind and intelligence fixed on Me, you will attain Me without doubt.

What we focus on becomes our destination. Race car drivers know that if you're always worried about hitting the wall, you'll hit the wall. So if you always think of Krishna—the source of all existence, and giver of perfect advice—guess Who you'll ultimately run into?

But spiritual life is a gradual, long-term process. We're not meant to "crash." How to achieve and maintain balance in life is truly an art, and to learn it requires expert spiritual guidance. And dinner must be cooked.

Family offering candle-light to Krishna during Karttika

photo of first-class chapati courtesy of