Are earthly pleasures a hindrance to Spiritual growth?
Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Question: On one hand I want to spiritually grow towards enlightenment, but at the same time, some side of me wants to have earthly freedom, experiences like traveling, even though I know that those things won’t bring me true Joy.
Are earthly pleasures a hindrance to spiritual growth?
Acharya Prashant(AP): There is no dissonance between Spiritual Joy, and earthly living. The one who is not spiritually developed may travel to all corners of the earth, but would still remain joyless. So what is the point in travelling?
There is the wandering monk; look at his Joy. There is the Fakir (Monk) who travels from place to place, village to village, sometimes from country to country. Traditionally, in India, Sadhus (Monk) would forbid themselves from staying too long at any one place. They would just keep travelling.
Buddha and Mahavir, the great ascetics, they traveled all their life. Even Guru Nanak made voyages, long distance travels — to the east, to the south, to the west. That’s one kind of travelling — in which you are already full of Joy, and you are travelling to disseminate that Joy. You are travelling so that even others may have that Joy.
And then, there is the travelling tourist; the average traveler. What does travel give him? Some consolation, some very feeble support to enable him to carry on his otherwise wretched life. Once a year, twice a year, he saves money to travel, and not much comes out of that travel, because he is not internally complete.
Even the Earth discloses it’s real treasures only to the spiritually accomplished ones. To the spiritually accomplished one, the earthly living itself is heavenly. And that would also tell you what is ‘hell’. The one who is not spiritually accomplished, to him, the earth itself is ‘hell’.
So, it is not as if there are two different worlds, offering two different kinds of Joy. That is the mental model you are coming from. You are telling me, “There is the earthly joy, which is an inferior kind of joy, but still quite alluring. And then, there is a metaphysical, transcendental Joy, spiritual Joy. And the spiritual Joy is quite…