Wordsworth sincerely believed that materialism was vitiating the life of his contemporaries and as a protest against it he wrote “The world is too much with us.” In fact things are no better today. In West or East, material ism naked, and stark materialism is rampant (Bold and unchecked). People, everywhere, on this globe think in the terms of money, in the spirit of utility. You may go on arguing and arguing that East is spiritual and not worldly in the outlook; but East, of today is selfish and as utilitarian as West of today. Communism whether in Russia or Red China is at once a philosophy of materialism; it does not believe in such a thing as ‘soul’ or ‘religion’ or ‘God’. Materialism is essentially a product of the modern industrial and mechanized civilization.
Now let us try to understand what materialism is? In broad and simple words, it is the cult of matter of bread—a cult that is confined to this earth and never looks beyond to another world of higher values and higher rewards. A materialist believes that this world is the only reality which concerns him and his point of view is out and out utilitarian. Though it will be wrong to say that materialism is a philosophy based on science, but many scientists are it votaries.
Nobody will deny the fact that materialism is not enough. Mere utility will not do; we will also have to take into consideration beauty and nobility. Man does not live by bread alone. Materialism, divorced from moral considerations always breeds strife and lead to wars. Contemplation of nature and contemplation of God are also very necessary and play a vital role in one’s life. Wordsworth was critical of his contemporaries because they were always busy with getting and spending and little cared for nature. Mere feeding the belly won’t do. The heart must also be nourished and materialism provides little food to heart. As a matter of fact, materialism loses sight of heart and scoffs at religion which emanates from heart. Skyscrapers (very tall buildings) will not bless us with the peace of mind, so much missing in our era; it is only spiritualism which can save us from disillusionment and disintegration.
But mind spiritualism is not escapism. A spiritualist of the right type accepts this life, this earth as real; but an escapist denounces this world as an ugly and sordid one and builds of his own with the help of his soaring and purple imagination. An escapist is always an enemy of society while a spiritualist is not.
As matter of fact, only too much of the world or materialism is baneful (harmful) or dangerous. One should be a materialist in the sense that one should first love this earth and then beyond it. Those who reject realities of this world and are always dreaming of some sort of heaven are misled and dangerous men. Other worldliness should be inculcated along with this worldliness and not at its expense. Just like Wordsworth’s ‘Skylark’ one should be kindred to the points of home and heaven. Just like lotus, looking heavenwards, one should have one’s roots in the mud and still be not muddy. One should feel alike the body and the soul. One should attach significance to both matter and spirit. Neglect of either of the two will spell disaster.
The Hindus in the past neglected matter, their worldly interests which succumbed yielded to the barbarous invasions of the Muslims. Retiring to Himalayas for meditation will not be fruitful; one should face the harsh realities of this earth and try to convert this very world into heaven. To conclude we are suffering from too much materialism. Let us cultivate more of spiritualism. But mind, too much of spiritualism will be as bad or baneful as too much of materialism.