The following is taken from a lecture Srila Prabhupada gave in Hawaii on May 25, 1975
The glaring attraction of the city is maya. In the modern age people are attracted by city life, but we should know that city life is not for the devotee (or any other transcendentalist); generally, people like city life, but that is maya. Maya means “that which is not a fact” or that which is an illusion. We are under the spell of maya, thinking that by living in the city we shall be happy.
One English poet, Cowper, said that a city is made by men, but a village is made by God. So, if you can stick to village life you can produce your necessities and be satisfied with whatever you produce. If we keep cows and grow food grains, fruits, and vegetables, then we can live very peacefully. There is no need of going to the city. That is the plan of God, Krishna.
Krishna personally exhibited living in a village. Vrindavana is a village; it is not a city. We are trying to go to the village of Krishna — Vrindavana.
Formerly one was considered to be rich if one possessed many cows:. Now, artificially, the society has made a promise that if you can possess some paper – a hundred dollars, five hundred dollars, a thousand dollars, then you are rich. But actually that is not wealth. When there is no food, you cannot eat this paper no matter how much it may be worth – a hundred dollars, five hundred dollars, etc. But if one possesses grains and cows, then one will never starve. The city people, who have money, are getting food supplies from remote villages. Thus they are dependent whereas the farmers are free.
Money means paper, which they are using to cheat people. There is no money really, but they have made an economic condition in such a clever way that we are accepting this paper as money. We are being misled to think we need money to obtain so many material possessions that the city offers so that we can live properly and be happy. They are mostly superfluous things. Real riches are actually the grains and milk. Those are real riches; according to Vedic civilization it is said, dhanyena dhanavan gavaya dhanavan.
So the Krishna consciousness movement is designed to teach everyone that we should not be attracted by false things. City life is like fool’s gold.
Produce your own food; keep cows, and milk. And, if you produce cotton, you can produce your own cloth also.
That is an actual civilization. You are all Europeans and Americans, and are not accustomed to it. But if you develop the civilization of plain living and high thinking, and save time for advancing in Krishna consciousness, you will achieve the real success of life.
Comfortable means without anxiety. That is life. Real life is without anxiety. That is comfortable living. If you are living and sleeping in a very high skyscraper building, but full of anxiety, is that a comfortable life? That is not a comfortable life. Canakya Pandita, regarded as a greatly wise man in India, has said that a comfortable, happy person is one who does not have to go too far from home to work and who is not a debtor. He is happy. However, in the city everyone are debtors, and they have to go fifty miles, a hundred miles, etc. for earning livelihood. Is that comfortable? The bank is ready to give you money – “Purchase motorcar. Purchase this. Purchase that.” And at the end of the month, after working hard to get a salary, all of the money is taken by the bank, and again you have to work. So you are a debtor and full of anxiety; is that a comfortable life? No, that is not a comfortable life. A comfortable life means no anxiety.
So you have got this land. Don’t go away. Develop it. That is my instruction. Keep cows. Produce your own food and thus save time for spiritual life. This is perfect. You don’t require a technical education and this education, that education, wine, meat. That is a hellish civilization. That is not human civilization.
Read Bhagavad-gita and Srimad Bhagavatam; produce your own food; live peacefully. What is the use of going to the city? Bhaktivinoda Thakura (a modern saint and writer) said that this material way of life, material advancement of civilization, means giving an advantage to illusion to increase its influence over us.
So be satisfied with a humble life in the village and be advanced in spiritual consciousness. That is the real profit of life. Don’t be misled by the glaring, dazzling situation of the city. It is not worth it.