“By spiritual activity everyone factually benefits, whereas by materialistic activity no one benefits and instead one becomes entangled in the laws of karma.”
This is from the Srimad-Bhagavatam 8.9.29
[This chapter of the Srimad-Bhagavatam is entitled, ” The Lord Incarnates as Mohini-Murti.” This chapter describes how the demons, being enchanted by the beauty of the Mohini form, agreed to hand over the container of nectar to Mohinidevi, who tactfully delivered it to the demigods.]
In human society there are various activities performed for the protection of one’s wealth and life by one’s words, one’s mind and one’s actions, but they are all performed for one’s personal or extended sense gratification with reference to the body. All these activities are baffled because of being separate from devotional service. But when the same activities are performed for the satisfaction of the Lord, the beneficial results are distributed to everyone, just as water poured on the root of a tree is distributed throughout the entire tree.
This is the distinction between materialistic activities and activities performed in Krishna consciousness. The entire world is active, and this includes the karmis, the jñanis, the yogis and the bhaktas. However, all activities except those of the bhaktas, the devotees, end in bafflement and a waste of time and energy.
Moghasa mogha-karmano mogha-jñana vicetasah: if one is not a devotee, his hopes, his activities and his knowledge are all baffled. A nondevotee works for his personal sense gratification or for the sense gratification of his family, society, community or nation, but because all such activities are separate from the Supreme Personality of Godhead, they are considered asat.
The word asat means bad or temporary, and sat means permanent and good. Activities performed for the satisfaction of Krishna are permanent and good, but asat activity, although sometimes celebrated as philanthropy, altruism, nationalism, this “ism” or that “ism,” will never produce any permanent result and is therefore all bad.
Even a little work done in Krishna consciousness is a permanent asset and is all-good because it is done for Krishna, the all-good Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is everyone’s friend (suhrdam sarva-bhutanam). The Supreme Personality of Godhead is the only enjoyer and proprietor of everything (bhoktaram yajña-tapasam sarva-loka-mahesvaram). Therefore any activity performed for the Supreme Lord is permanent. As a result of such activities, the performer is immediately recognized.
Na ca tasman manusyesu kascin me priya-krttamah. Such a devotee, because of full knowledge of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is immediately transcendental, although he may superficially appear to be engaged in materialistic activities.
The only distinction between materialistic activity and spiritual activity is that material activity is performed only to satisfy one’s own senses whereas spiritual activity is meant to satisfy the transcendental senses of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. By spiritual activity everyone factually benefits, whereas by materialistic activity no one benefits and instead one becomes entangled in the laws of karma.