Every living being in this universe naturally desires eternal everlasting happiness because of being an eternal part of the ever-blissful Supreme Lord, who is the ultimate reservoir of truth, consciousness, and happiness. How can this eternal happiness be attained? The practice to attain this is the subject of unending controversy. However, all these controversial claims can be classified irrefutably into two categories: materialism and spirituality. The individual who considers himself to be a soul is a spiritualist, and the one who considers himself to be the body is a materialist. Though both brand the other meaningless and false, the truth is that both are ignorant. Just as the body and soul have a reciprocal eternal relationship, spirituality and materialism are equally inevitable. How is this so?
We refer to ourselves as both the body as well as the soul. In a conscious living state, this combination of body and soul is given a name and we address ourselves as “I” or “we”. For example, “I am going. I am eating.” When a soul leaves the body, we often say that so-and-so has left this world, even though his body is lying before us. What does this mean? It proves that there are two entities: one being the soul and the other the body. The soul is divine and the body is material, and both should be given their respective subjects.
This body consists of five gross elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether, and so does this world. Therefore, the subject of the body is the world. As human beings, we have five sense organs - the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and skin, and they enable us to explore this world through our five senses - vision, sound, smell, taste, and form. Each sense organ has a vast world to perceive and there is no limit to the objects. The soul, on the other hand, is an eternal part of the Supreme Soul, God, and therefore the subject of the soul is God Himself. You cannot exchange the subjects of the body with the subjects of the soul or vice versa. Each invariably has its own subjects and the coordination of both is essential.
Spirituality is rendered useless without the aid of materialism because devotional practice is performed using the body alone. In this context, body includes the mind and intellect. Our body and mind are both made of maya. Our intellect is also made of maya. Only our soul is spiritual because of being a part of God. When we say “body” it really means a combination of the body, senses, mind, and intellect. And we should look after this body too, keeping it in good health. All essential nutrients, vitamins, proteins, fats, and minerals like iron must be given to the body in the required amount to maintain it and protect it from disease. When the body is unfit or in the grip of some ailment, no individual can meditate on God. Instead of meditating on God, he will be thinking of his pain or problem.
People talk of great sages and seers who lived without food; some living only on water, some only on air, and some even lived without air! This is okay, but where did they live? Was it in the sky or in some vacuum? No. Air, water, earth, and sky are all made of maya. The body you possess is also material. Can you forgo these things? No. You can meditate on God only with the help of this material body.
Jagadguru Shri Kripalu Ji Maharaj