In the material world everyone is interested in money and sense gratification. The only objective is to earn as much money as possible and utilize it for satisfaction of the senses. Śrīla Śukadeva Gosvāmī thus described the activities of the materialistic persons:
- nidrayā hriyate naktaṁ
- vyavāyena ca vā vayaḥ
- divā cārthehayā rājan
- kuṭumba-bharaṇena vā
- (SB 2.1.3)
This is a typical example of materialistic persons. At night they waste their time by sleeping more than six hours or by wasting time in sex indulgence. This is their occupation at night, and in the morning they go to their office or business place just to earn money. As soon as there is some money, they become busy in purchasing things for their children and others. Such persons are never interested in understanding the values of life—what is God, what is the individual soul, what is its relationship with God, etc. Things are degraded to such an extent that those who are supposed to be religious are also at the present moment interested only in sense gratification. The number of materialistic persons in this age of Kali has increased more than in any other age; therefore persons who are interested in going back home, back to Godhead, should not only engage in the service of realized souls but should give up the company of materialistic persons, whose only aim is to earn money and employ it in sense gratification. They should also not accept the objectives of materialistic persons, namely money and sense gratification. Therefore it is stated: bhaktiḥ pareśānubhavo viraktir anyatra ca (SB 11.2.42). To advance in devotional service one should be uninterested in the materialistic way of life. That which is the subject matter of satisfaction for the devotees is of no interest to the nondevotees.
Simple negation, or giving up the company of materialistic persons, will not do. We must have engagements. Sometimes it is found that a person interested in spiritual advancement gives up the company of material society and goes to a secluded place as recommended for the yogīs especially, but that will also not help a person in spiritual advancement, for in many instances such yogīs also fall down. As far as jñānīs are concerned, generally they fall down without taking shelter of the lotus feet of the Lord. The impersonalists or the voidists can simply avoid the positive material association; they cannot remain fixed in transcendence without being engaged in devotional service. The beginning of devotional service is to hear about the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. That is recommended in this verse: vinā harer guṇa-pīyūṣa-pānāt. One must drink the nectar of the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, and this means that one must be always engaged in hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord. It is the prime method for advancing in spiritual life. Lord Caitanya Mahāprabhu also recommends this in the Caitanya-caritāmṛta. If one wants to make advancement in spiritual life, by great fortune he may meet a bona fide spiritual master and from him learn about Kṛṣṇa. By serving both the spiritual master and Kṛṣṇa he gets the seed of devotional service (bhakti-latā-bīja), and if he sows the seed within his heart and waters it by hearing and chanting, it grows into a luxuriant bhakti-latā, or bhakti creeper. The creeper is so strong that it penetrates the covering of the universe and reaches the spiritual world and continues to grow on and on until it reaches and takes shelter of the lotus feet of Kṛṣṇa, just as an ordinary creeper also grows on and on until it takes a solid shelter on a roof; then it very steadily grows and produces the required fruit. The real cause of the growing of such fruit, which is here called the nectar of hearing the glories of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is to water the creeper of devotional service by hearing and chanting. The purport is that one cannot live outside the society of devotees; one must live in the association of devotees, where there is constant chanting and hearing of the glories of the Lord. The Kṛṣṇa consciousness movement is started for this purpose, so that hundreds of ISKCON centers may give people a chance to hear and chant, to accept the spiritual master and to disassociate themselves from persons who are materially interested, for in this way one can make solid advancement in going back home, back to Godhead.