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The Quest for Enlightenment
Articles from Back to Godhead magazine
Many people are reacting to today's high-pressure, fast-paced life by "downshifting." They accept lower incomes to pursue their special interests or to live with less stress in more natural surroundings. Often they will devote more time and energy to spiritual pursuits. Instead of vacationing in Disneyland, they explore the mysteries of Stonehenge, Egypt's pyramids, or the temples of the Maya in southern Mexico. They find more inspiration and illumination in the teachings of lost civilizations than in the offerings of our modern consumer society. Surveys of students routinely report an increasing interest in spiritual fulfillment.
This is a healthy trend. The sages of ancient India said, tamasi mā jyolir gams - "Don't stay in darkness, go toward the light." They advised thoughtful people to embark on the quest for enlightenment. The final goal of this quest is not, however, attained by everyone. The Bhagavad-gītā, India's classic book of spirituality, informs us that out of thousands of people who set out on the quest for enlightenment only a few will take to the right path, and of those who find the right path, only the most fortunate will achieve the final goal. Spiritual success requires determination and perseverance.
It also requires understanding the difference between matter and spirit, darkness and light. Today such understanding is rarely found, even among spiritual seekers. The Gītā informs us, "What is night for all beings is the time of awakening for the self-controlled; and the time of awakening for all beings is night for the introspective sage." In his commentary on this passage in his Bhagavad-gītā As It Is, His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupāda (known popularly as Śrīla Prabhupāda) says, "Activities of the introspective sage ... are night for persons materially absorbed. Materialistic persons are asleep in such a night due to their ignorance of self-realization. The introspective sage remains alert in the 'night' of the materialistic men. The sage feels transcendental pleasure in the gradual advancement of spiritual culture, whereas the man in materialistic activities, being asleep to self-realization, dreams of varieties of sense pleasure, feeling sometimes happy and sometimes distressed in his sleeping condition."
In this book, The Quest for Enlightenment, Śrīla Prabhupāda shows us the true path of enlightenment and invites us to traverse this path from the dark night of materialism to the shining daylight of transcendence. Widely recognized by scholars and spiritual leaders as the most distinguished teacher of Indian culture and philosophy in the modern age, Śrīla Prabhupāda is the perfect guide and companion for the journey along the path of enlightenment.
The Quest for Enlightenment is a compilation of Śrīla Prabhupāda's teachings, originally published as articles in Back to Godhead, the magazine of the Hare Kṛṣṇa movement. Śrīla Prabhupāda founded this magazine in India in 1944, and since then it has become the world's foremost journal dedicated to the teachings of Lord Kṛṣṇa.
The first chapter of this book describes the need to embark on the quest for enlightenment. The second explains what matter is, what spirit is, and who controls them both. In the third chapter we learn about the attributes of the best kind of spiritual master to guide us on our personal quest. The fourth chapter outlines the techniques of yoga and meditation, and the fifth chapter explores spiritual solutions to material problems. In the sixth chapter Śrīla Prabhupāda critiques modern science and philosophy. And in the seventh and final chapter Śrīla Prabhupāda explains love of God, the highest goal for those on the path of transcendence.
The Quest for Enlightenment provides a comprehensive and comprehensible guide to the path of spiritual progress. Śrīla Prabhupāda speaks the truth without compromise. He represents the Vedic tradition faithfully and without personal motivation. And through his unique gift he communicates the most essential Vedic teachings to the modern world, inviting us all to embark on the journey that will take us from darkness to light, from the unreal to the real, from death to immortality.