The premise that the material world is a place of enjoyment for the living entity is the problem. Actually, the material world is a place of perpetual suffering, and material activities are a perpetual struggle to avoid or counteract these sufferings. Material miseries are three: adyatmik, adidaivik, and adibhaudik—(1) miseries inherent in the body (birth, old age, disease and death); (2) miseries inflicted by other living entities; and (3) miseries of supernatural origin—earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, etc.
Although these are irrefutable facts, the living entities overwhelmed by material desires are always bewildered on account of lust, anger, greed, lamentation, illusion and madness, just as a man with malaria fever hallucinates and cannot understand whether he’s asleep or awake.
Mistakenly accepting the material body as one’s self, the conditioned soul is busy from morning till night searching for food, shelter, protection and sex, and in the struggle to obtain all these bodily necessities he develops love, friendship and society (social position) with similarly bewildered conditioned souls like himself. These three relationships are the platform from which he shows off his acquired material WEALTH, WOMAN and PRESTIGE. In this way the material existence is just like the atmosphere of a mental institution in which every inmate imagines himself to be someone or something he is not. Thus he is a madman.
When we speak like this, ordinary people become defensive and say this is very negative, and that life is beautiful and joyful. However, Krishna personally states in Bhagavad-gita that the material world is dukhalayum, miserable and asasvatam, temporary.
From the topmost plant in this material world down to the lowest, all of them are places of misery wherein repeated birth and death take place. (Bhagavad-gita 8.16)
One has only to visit a hospital and observe a birth in progress or an old age home and see the preliminary state to death to appreciate Krishna’s statement “miserable” and “temporary.” Who has not suffered the miseries of birth? Who will avoid the miseries of old age? And who wants to die? Yet people insist life is beautiful and joyful.
Actually only spiritual life is beautiful and joyful. But material life is morbid and miserable. Otherwise, why is the body of even the most beautiful person instantly repulsive when the life force is out of it?!! Life, i.e. the living spark, only is beautiful, and when life is in contact with matter, it also appears beautiful, just as the moon is beautiful because the sun shines on it and is reflected by the body of the moon. Otherwise how is the moon beautiful?? Similarly, the body only reflects the life of the soul; it is therefore animated (moving), warm (98.6°), growing, and producing by-products. A dead body will not move, grow, produce offspring, or have temperature, and consequently be beautiful. It always is a repulsive and obnoxious combination of blood, fat, bone, muscle, bile, stool, urine and putrid, repulsive odours. Life, however, is above all such obnoxious material qualities, in fact so much so that as long as life is in touch with matter, it makes matter (man, beast, bird or bug) appear to be a beautiful, joyful living thing. But actually matter is never alive. It is always dead, obnoxious, morbid and devoid of life. Life comes from life, and life never comes from any amount of matter, just as light comes from light, and no amount of darkness can create even a spark of light. Rather, the absence of light is the cause of darkness. Similarly, the absence of life means matter.
As soon as one chants the Holy Name of Krishna, he is in spiritual life. This fact is to be realized by practicing the chant of the Holy Name constantly at all times, under all circumstances.
Everyone is busy for nothing, namely decorating and maintaining the dead lump of matter which he thinks is himself. As soon as one understands from the self-realized soul or Krishna, i.e. Bhagavad-gita, that he is not a product of this material world and therefore material activities are nothing but hard labor for nothing, at that time if one chants the Holy Name of Krishna, his spiritual life begins. In due course of time, if one follows the instructions of Bhagavad-gita and the spiritual master, all material doubts, misgivings and miseries evaporate just as fog evaporates with the rising of the morning sun. No other force can dispel the gloom of fog; only the rising of the sun automatically dissipates the cloud of morning fog.
We do not convert people, like converting dollars to yen or pounds to francs. We simply awaken the dormant sleeping spirit soul, and the rest is up to the individual. Vairagya vidya nija bhakti yogam.