By Chaitanya Charan Das
In our times, equality is considered one of the most cherished values. Few things provoke as much indignation as incidents of discrimination – or even allegations of discrimination. Such outrage is healthy, for it helps create a world where everyone has equal opportunities.
Still, what is the basis for our longing for equality? Intuition, we might say – we innately feel that everyone should be treated equally. Yes, but what is the basis of that intuition? In other words, what is the worldview that grounds this intuition in a coherent living framework? The prevailing worldview of materialism offers no basis.
Consider various parameters often used to rate people. Height, weight, strength, complexion, IQ – people score differently on all such metrics. Whatever material metric we use for comparing people, we find that they are different. Materialism tells us that people are different, not equal.
To ground our longing for equality in reality, we need an alternative worldview: a spiritual worldview. The Bhagavad-gita states that all of us are souls who are essentially similar in our core characteristics – we are eternal, conscious and joyous. And we are parts of the divine.
Those who understand this truth see all living beings equally (05.18) – not just all human beings, but all living beings. Such seers acknowledge the variety that characterizes living beings at the material level, but they focus on seeing beyond that variety to their essential equality.
That spiritual vision is the foundation for a most inclusive sense of equality. To the extent we can focus on developing our own spirituality and helping others develop theirs, to that extent we will be able to place the aspiration for equality on a stronger foundation. The more we raise our consciousness to the spiritual level by potent purificatory practices, the more we will seek equality, see equality and savor equality.
Verse 05.18 – “The humble sages, by virtue of true knowledge, see with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].”
Think it over:
How does materialism militate against our longing for equality?
How does the Gita ground our longing for equality in reality?
How can we help create a more equal world?