Question from a devotee: Spirituality makes us oblivious to the luxuries of the body. Materialism makes us neglect the spirit. Is it possible to blend both spirituality and materialism in our lives?
Answer from Swamiji: The attainment of a healthy mind in a healthy body requires a synthesis of both-material and spiritual knowledge. No matter how successful we become in our field of work, if the body is ailing and the mind is disturbed, we will remain unhappy. Hence, our most valuable possession is not our wealth, property or car, but our own body and mind. The body, which is made from the five material elements and sustained by what we eat and drink, must be kept in good shape through material science. And the mind must be cleansed and elevated through spiritual science. Hence, we need to blend both spiritual and material sciences in our lives.
Simplistic spiritual practitioners sometimes proclaim that since we are the soul, we must cultivate only the spirit and pay no attention to the body. However, if the body falls sick, the mind becomes filled with the sensation of physical pain, and one cannot even think of God. A healthy body is our boat for crossing the ocean of material existence. The old adage states: "Health is wealth." Realizing the truth of this, an intelligent person should spend time and effort to learn the science of healthy living, for physical and mental well-being.
Conversely, materialists often proclaim spiritual science as a waste of time and an impediment to material progress. This is also naïve, for without the help of spiritual knowledge; secular science has no means of eliminating the negative propensities of the mind. We may harness external nature through modern technology to multiply our bodily comforts, but how will we harness the forces of our internal nature, such as lust, anger, greed, envy and illusion? This is only possible by taking recourse to spirituality.
Thus, for attaining the Ultimate goal of human life, we need to adopt both-spirituality for nourishing the mind and materialism for taking care of the body.