Raam, this is a beautifully written post. I have mentioned to you before that I have traveled outside North America 6 times or so – twice to India, and 4 times to Fiji. Upon returning to America, I felt exactly as you described. The utter surrealism of our culture struck me and I felt ashamed to see the excess of Wal-mart, knowing full well how so many live without simple necessities like water, food, cleanliness, and physical safety.
From a young age I burned to help people, to provide some social reform in a confused world. I worked for Greenpeace; dropped out of society to take shelter of the counterculture of the Rainbow gatherings and Dead shows; and finally found purpose in spiritual life. It is absolutely a fact that the material problems we face can only be remedied with spiritual solutions.
Why is that? Because we are by nature spiritual beings. The bodies we wear and even the minds we have will fade with time, still we do not change our very essence, our soul. Therefore the highest welfare work is to remind all people to look within and become acquainted with their true selves – their souls.
All people who are forgetful of their identity as a spirit soul are suffering. Whether he sleeps on a posturpedic or a dirt floor, a man who has amnesia will suffer because he cannot remember who he is. Such a person will be haunted by a nagging feeling of disconnect. No amount of comforts can satisfy the ache of not knowing your identity.
Conversely, he who is filled with knowledge of himself, the Supreme, and the unbreakable bond between the two of them, will not feel suffering in any condition of life. We cannot change people’s karma. However, we can change our hearts. Once we hand our heart to the Lord, our path is no longer bound by the stringent laws of karma.