Social trends are currently moving toward traditional family values. Ms. Faith Popcorn (that's really her name), president and founder of BrainReserve, a Manhattan firm specializing in detecting consumer trends, attributes America's return to Mom-and-Pop ethics to a backlash from the excesses of the recent past The fear of AIDS is the coup de grace, prompting a return to stable, long-term relationships. But in a PhiladelphiaInquirer interview, Ms. Popcorn warns that as soon as an AIDS cure is discovered. "There's going to be such a major sexual revolution out there it's going to make the seventies look like nothing. People will be dissolving marriages; they'll be running around; they'll be doing . . . everything possible."

While the accuracy of Ms. Popcorn's prediction remains to be seen, her observations hint at an undeniable aspect of the nature of living beings: our attraction for excitement and pleasure cannot be repressed. Vedic literature describes the pursuit of happiness as the prime symptom of man's individual, spiritual consciousness. Since we eternally yearn for pleasure, the trick is to strive for rewarding engagements that will not leave us and our society with a crushing material hangover.

Constant repetition quickly turns even the most stimulating activities dull and stale. So modern society has developed the desperate habit of latching on to one fad after another, endlessly replacing last year's car with this year's sleeker version. A current example: Sixty years ago it was enough to repeal the constitutional amendment prohibiting whiskey and beer; now there's debate over the legalization of cocaine and marijuana.

One may wonder. Since society does not encourage the pursuit of spiritual achievement why not just go whole hog for sense pleasure? Why have any restrictions at all?

Indeed, puritanical moralizing falls short in keeping most people content To effectively discourage disruptive social activities, a more enticing substitute must first be offered. The Vedic literature gives insight into a superior pleasure inherent in our eternal, spiritual identity. As explained in the Bhagavad-gita (5.21). "A liberated person is not attracted to material sense pleasure but is always in trance, enjoying the pleasure within. In this way the self-realized person enjoys unlimited happiness, for he concentrates on the Supreme." Thus. the most desirable spiritual experiences are achieved by those who reawaken the soul's eternal relationship with the Supreme Soul, commonly known as God, who in His most attractive form is known in Sanskrit as Krsna.

In this regard, there's a famous quote from a Vaisnava saint, Yamunacarya, who says, "Since I have been engaged in the transcendental loving service of Krsna, realizing ever-new pleasure in Him, whenever I think of sex pleasure I spit at the thought, and my lips curl with distaste."

Since the highest pleasure in ordinary affairs is found in sex enjoyment, a materialist experiences despondency without its inspiration. But for a mature devotee like Yamunacarya, the pleasure of Krsna consciousness makes even the mere thought of sex enjoyment comparatively unpleasant and distracting. Yamunacarya regulated life wasn't just a defensive reaction to society's moral pressures, but a natural by-product of a happy life.

Convinced that a life of spiritual engagement is a happy life, the members of the Hare Krsna movement encourage others to chant the names of God, offer their food to Him with gratitude and love, and act for progressive devotional development These are spiritual activities that men of all races, creeds, and nations can wholeheartedly take up for the gain of the individual and the entire human society. By these practices, even a spiritual neophyte can quickly loosen his attachments for frustrating worldly addictions.

If society could become as preoccupied with spiritual achievement as it is with scientific discoveries that lift sexual and other kinds of social restriction, not only would morality and the family remain secure for posterity, but a taste of real happiness could be achieved that previously could only be yearned for.