We Are Pleasure-Seeking beings. When a member of a Mexican metaphysical society asked Srila Prabhupada, "Why is there anything?" Prabhupada said, simply, that everything exists because of the drive forananda, pleasure. "Our basic principle is pleasure, so whatever gives pleasure we accept. That is natural."
There are two kinds of pleasure available to us in this world: material and spiritual. Material pleasure is temporary; spiritual pleasure lasts forever.
Why, then, don't we rush forward to taste spiritual pleasure? One reason may be that to do so we have to give up our attachment to material pleasure. Who has the courage to give up that which seems tangible for something unproven? What if we don't achieve it?
In the Bhagavad-gita, Arjuna asks the same question: if he gives up his material pleasure for spiritual life but fails to attain his spiritual goal, won't he lose both spiritually and materially and "perish like a riven cloud, with no position in any sphere"? Krsna says no, he will not.
Arjuna gave up his fear and surrendered to Krsna, but if we hold onto ours the Bhagavatam says we are misers. Misers have no true estimation of the body; they think they can hold on to life "forever" and enjoy unlimited sense gratification. They also have little or no awareness of how their present activities will affect their future.
A miser is someone who hoards his wealth and fails to enjoy its true purpose. The human form of life is an asset. A human being can solve life's biggest problems birth, death, disease, and old age but if he refuses to use his human form for this purpose, he is refusing to properly spend his wealth.
Srila Prabhupada explains it like this: We have a hundred years at most to live. In that time, most people expend vast amounts of energy trying to make themselves comfortable. Often, however, they do it through exploitation, enjoying at some other living being's expense. For example, they may find the taste of meat pleasurable, and to satisfy the drive for pleasure they willingly kill animals. They gain some momentary pleasure, but they also accrue karmic reactions that will lead them into suffering in the future. In this way, their happiness is ultimately defeated. The drive toward constant material pleasure thus becomes their greatest enemy.
It is foolish to skimp on using our energy for self-realization, as much as it would be to live with wealth but fear to spend it and instead live as if poor. The human form of life is meant for self-realization, and Srila Prabhupada writes that it is better to pursue self-realization than material gratification "even at the risk of death."
"Even at the risk of death." Deciding not to remain miserly may feel risky; we will have to depend on Krsna for protection. But remaining a miser is riskier. We might leave this world in the consciousness of a cat or a dog, without understanding the point of human life. And that would bring us misery, not pleasure.
Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami travels extensively to speak and write about Krsna consciousness. He is the author of many books, including a six-volume biography of Srila Prabhupada.