The first thing is that one should very nicely understand the position of material existence. Sanātana Gosvāmī, who approached Lord Caitanya, he presented himself that "My dear Lord, people in general, they speak of me that I am very learned man," grāmya vyavahāre kaha paṇḍita, "I am very learned man. But actually when I think of myself, what kind of learned man I am, I do not know what I am." So this type of advancement of knowledge, simply for material comforts, without knowing about oneself, "What I am?" they're simply useless labor. One should try to understand what he is. That is also the beginning of Vedānta-sūtra. Athāto brahma jijñāsā: one should be inquisitive to understand about himself, Brahman, or the Supreme Brahman. That is the real necessity of this human form of life. The animals, they cannot inquire about himself or about the Supreme. But a human being can inquire, that "I want to become happy, but miseries are coming upon me one after another." At least, one should know what are the miseries. The miseries are three kinds of miseries. It is not the question of one religion or another religion. The miserable condition of life is for everyone, either he is Hindu or he is Muslim or Christian or Jew. It doesn't matter. Anyone who has accepted this material body has to undergo the miserable condition of material existence. That is a fact. And what are the miserable condition? There are three types: adhyātmika, adhibhautika, adhidaivika. Adhyātmika means pertaining to the body, mind. Everyone is experienced that "I'm not feeling today well due to some sickness of my body or some mental disturbance." This is called adhyātmika. And there are other miseries inflicted by other living entities, my enemies, some animal, some mosquito or some bug. There are so many living entities, they are also try to give me some trouble. This is called adhibhautika. And there is another type of misery, which is called adhidaivika. That is natural disturbance—severe cold, severe heat, some famine, some earthquake, some disaster, some hurricanes. There are so many things, natural disturbance. So in either of these three types of miserable condition we are. But those who are foolish, they do not see to it. Under illusion of māyā they think, "Oh, we are very happy." This is called māyā. One is not happy, but he's thinking, "I am happy." And they are trying to become happy in so many other ways.
But that is not the way of seeking happiness. If we actually want to be happy, then you have to inquire about your constitutional position, what I am. That is meditation, to know. You just think over yourself, "Whether I am this body?" If you think that... Suppose you think over your, meditate upon your finger. You'll come to the conclusion that "I am not this finger. It is my finger. I am not this finger." Because if the finger is cut off, that I am not dead, therefore I am not finger. It is very easy to understand. So you meditate on every part of your body. You'll come to the conclusion, if you are sane, that "I am not this body. The body is mine. I am not this dress. The dress is mine." That is the conclusion. Then what I am? At the present moment I am identifying with this body, with this dress. (child disturbing) That is illusion. Yasyātma-buddhiḥ kuṇape tri-dhātuke (SB 10.84.13). Bhāgavata says anyone who is identifying himself with this body, he's an ass. He's not even a human being. Actually it is so, because I am not this body. And the beginning of Bhagavad-gītā is with this proposition, that you are not this body. Dehino 'smin yathā dehe kaumāraṁ yauvanaṁ jarā (BG 2.13). The body is growing because I am sitting within this body. A child grows so long the soul is there. If a child takes birth, dead body, it does not grow. That means the soul is not there. That is called dead. So this preliminary knowledge one has to learn. That is called brahma-jijñāsā. The Bhagavad-gītā begins from this point, that "I am not this body."
So this is... The function of human activity is to know oneself, what he is, and then begin his work. And if he works simply just like animal, eating, sleeping, mating and defending... These are animal activities. If you simply endeavor for eating whole day and night, and if you are satisfied whatever you like to eat, and you think that "My mission of life is finished, now my belly is full with foodstuff," that is not human civilization. But in this age people are degrading so much that at the end of the day, if he can have a full belly meal, he says, "Oh, I am now satisfied." Just like animal. Or "If I can sleep in a nice apartment, oh, I am very happy." Or "If I can mate with a beautiful opposite sex, oh, I am happy." These are animal happiness. Actual human happiness is not simply to meet the bodily demands. That is called brahma-jijñāsā. Athāto brahma jijñāsā. Now where to inquire about this Brahman, about oneself, that is the next question. Just like if you want to learn something about medical science you have to approach some medical man or you have to take admission in some medical school or college. Or if you want to learn about engineering you have to seek after somebody who knows engineering or technology. That is the way of education. So many universities and department of knowledge teaching different department of knowledge. Similarly, if you want to learn about yourself, Brahman, then you have to seek after some teacher who can teach you about your self. This is common knowledge. This is common knowledge. So all the Vedic literature says that in order to learn that transcendental science about yourself or about God, then tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum evābhigacchet (MU 1.2.12). In order to learn that science, don't manufacture, but scientific way, if you want to learn... Tad vijñānārthaṁ sa gurum eva..., gurum eva abhigacchet. Guru means spiritual master. Eva, eva means certainly. Not that if somebody thinks, "Oh, I can learn about myself without approaching any spiritual master." That is wrong. Actually eva, eva means certainly. One must. And this verb gacchet is used where this sense is used, "must." Gacchet, "must go," "must approach." That is the injunction of the Vedas. Similarly, the injunction of Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam is also tasmād guruṁ prapadyeta jijñāsuḥ śreya uttamam (SB 11.3.21).