Since the creation of this material world, mans efforts to make a permanent residence here had often been baffled. Birth, disease, old age and death, harass everyone without and exception. The laws of nature are so stringent that the even most powerful men, are crushed and reduced to bones or ashes at the end. No one has ever escaped the icy hands of mysterious death, in the past, neither will anyone, in the future.
Despite elaborate and varied insurance policies, there is no immunity against disease, old age and death. Neither the elaborate security arrangement of politicians can protect anyone from the ravages of disease old age and death.
The advancement of material knowledge has done next to nothing, in solving these existential problems of life. It helps us to become acclimatized to birth, death, and all sorts of suffering. Material scientists have discovered many facilities for sense enjoyment and destruction, but they have discovered no solution to the problems of old age, disease, and death. They cannot make any machine that will check death, old age, or disease. At best, material science can only create bombs and bullets to accelerate the process of death.
Those who are intelligent, however, are not concerned with the fourfold miseries of material life, but with elevation to the spiritual planets.
The word education takes it roots from the Latin word ‘educare’ which means to bring out. What is to be brought out? The divine qualities inherent in all beings. The Bhagavad-gita, probably the oldest scripture on the planet, tells us that man has a physical, subtle or mental and spiritual presence. The senses are superior to the gross body, the mind superior to the senses, above mind is the intelligence, and even above the intelligence is the soul, the owner the body.
The bible corroborates this fact by saying man has terrestrial and celestial bodies. It is only the spirit soul that survives death.
Real education therefore means self-realization, realization of the spiritual identity of man. Real education begins with an inquiry into the self and its origin. Any education which does not address this pertinent issue, or lead to such realization must be considered avidya, or nescience. Therefore the advancement of learning by a godless civilization is as dangerous as a valuable jewel on the hood of a cobra. A cobra decorated with a valuable jewel is more dangerous than the one not decorated. A decorated cobra may appear attractive, and easily mistaken less the intelligent, but its fangs remain as poisonous and deadly as the undecorated.
In the Vedic scriptures the advancement of education by a godless people is compared to decorations on a dead body. In India, as in many other countries, some people follow the custom of leading a procession with a decorated dead body for the pleasure of the lamenting relatives. In the same way, modern civilization is a patchwork of activities meant to cover the perpetual miseries of material existence.
Out of His unlimited kindness, the Personality of Godhead, sends His bona fide representatives in the form of His sons, servants and messengers such Jesus Christ, Mohammed, the Buddha, etc. to propagate spiritual education, by which the conditioned souls of this world can return to the eternal kingdom of God. Sometimes the Lord comes Himself to do this work, since all living beings are His beloved sons, His parts and parcels. God feels more sorry than ourselves, to see how all the living entities of this world are constantly undergoing great tribulations.
The miseries of this material world serve to indirectly remind us of our incompatibility with matter. Intelligent living entities generally take note of these reminders and engage themselves in the culture of transcendental knowledge. Human life is the best opportunity for the culturing spiritual knowledge, and a human being who does not take advantage of this opportunity is called a naradhama, the lowest of human beings.
The path of avidya, or advancement of material knowledge for sense gratification, is the path of repeated birth and death. As he exists spiritually, the living entity has no birth or death. Birth and death apply to the outward covering of the spirit soul, the body. Death is compared to the taking off and birth to the putting on of outward garments.
Foolish human beings who are grossly absorbed in the culture of avidya, nescience, do not mind this cruel process. Enamored with the beauty of the illusory energy, they undergo the same miseries repeatedly and do not learn any lessons from the laws of nature.
Therefore the culture of vidya, or transcendental knowledge, is essential for the human being. Sense enjoyment in the diseased material condition must be restricted as far as possible. Unrestricted sense enjoyment in this bodily condition is the path of ignorance and death. The living entities are not without spiritual senses; every living being in his original, spiritual form has all the senses, which are now materially manifested, being covered by the material body and mind.