Human life is meant for God realization, and the human being is given higher intelligence for this purpose. Those who believe that this higher intelligence is meant to attain a higher state should follow the instructions of the Vedic literatures. By taking such instructions from higher authorities, one can actually become situated in perfect knowledge and give real meaning to life.
In Śrīmad-Bhāgavatam (1.2.9) Śrī Sūta Gosvāmī describes the proper human dharma in this way:
dharmasya hy āpavargyasya
kāmo lābhāya hi smṛtaḥ
kāmo lābhāya hi smṛtaḥ
“All occupational engagements [dharma] are certainly meant for ultimate liberation. They should never be performed for material gain. Furthermore, one who is engaged in the ultimate occupational service [dharma] should never use material gain to cultivate sense gratiﬁcation.”
The ﬁrst step in human civilization consists of occupational engagements performed according to the scriptural injunctions. The higher intelligence of a human being should be trained to understand basic dharma. In human society there are various religious conceptions characterized as Hindu, Christian, Hebrew, Mohammedan, Buddhist and so on, for without religion, human society is no better than animal society.
As stated above (dharmasya hy āpavargyasya nārtho ’rthāyopakalpate), religion is meant for attaining emancipation, not for getting bread. Sometimes human society manufactures a system of so-called religion aimed at material advancement, but that is far from the purpose of true dharma. Religion entails understanding the laws of God because the proper execution of these laws ultimately leads one out of material entanglement. That is the true purpose of religion. Unfortunately people accept religion for material prosperity because of atyāhāra, or an excessive desire for such prosperity. True religion, however, instructs people to be satisﬁed with the bare necessities of life while cultivating Bhakti. Even though we require economic development, true religion allows it only for supplying the bare necessities of material existence. Jīvasya tattva jijñāsā: the real purpose of life is to inquire about the Absolute Truth. If our endeavor (prayāsa) is not to inquire about the Absolute Truth, we will simply increase our endeavor to satisfy our artiﬁcial needs. A spiritual aspirant should avoid mundane endeavor.
Source: Nectar of Instruction