Consumption, Contentment, and Climate Crisis

Acharya Prashant
15 min readAug 9, 2021

Following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner (Q): Spiritual wisdom has traditionally talked of sacrificing material desires and living an ascetic life. But, most people are habituated towards consumption, consumption is like a pandemic. Most people do not connect with talks of sacrifice and renunciation and hence avoid spirituality altogether. What is the solution?

Acharya Prashant (AP): You have talked of these words here: renunciation, sacrifice, asceticism. What do they mean? They do not mean that you have to give up on what is really useful to you, for your wellness and upliftment. Obviously, if you have something that is doing you good, it makes no sense to drop it.

Renunciation, therefore, is about not clinging to that which is doing you no good. I don’t suppose anybody would quarrel with that. If something is not helping you, why would you continue to be with it? That is renunciation.

What is sacrifice? Sacrifice is to give up the lower for the higher; you are sacrificing the lower in service of the higher or you could even say for the attainment of the higher. Again, I don’t suppose anybody can quarrel with this too.

So, when you say most people are habituated towards consumption, it is not consumption per se that is the problem. It is the mad and blind consumption of stuff that is anyway not going to do you any good, that’s the problem. So, wisdom or spiritual wisdom is not about the renunciation of consumption altogether. As long as your material body is there, you will continue to consume, you will have to consume. The question is, what to consume and how much? It is a burning question of this day as well. It is a spiritual question, as well as the most contemporary question. In fact, currently, there is hardly any other question that is really more important in our material lives as well, than this one.

So, how much to consume? What to consume? That’s where spiritual wisdom comes in handy.

Do not consume that which will poison you, even if it appears attractive.

Now that is spirituality.

And if you will pay some attention, it is common sense. Or you could say it’s elevated common sense…