“The quality of fire, warmth, is the same everywhere, and the spiritual spark, or part and parcel of the Supreme Spirit, is the same in every living being; thus the potency of the Lord is distributed all over His creation. This transcendental knowledge alone can save one from the contamination of material illusion.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 3.9.32 Purport)
“You shouldn’t beat women, especially your wife. They are dear to you for a reason. Sure, physically they likely aren’t as strong as you. They may have different interests, too. While you like to watch football games on television and hang out with your friends and play poker, women like to go shopping, decorate the home, and attend operas and ballets. While you are more boorish in behavior, women are more gentle. Because of these differences, sometimes arguments will arise. A clash of interests is the surefire way to ignite an argument. Despite the differences in appearance and behavior, women are the same as you. They are individuals. They should be treated with respect.”
“You shouldn’t hold prejudices towards members of different races. Sure, stereotypes come about based on trends in outward behavior, but then who doesn’t tend to behave in the same way as those around them? That’s the whole point to the fashion magazines. Whatever the latest celebrity is wearing is what others will buy. With the different races, the similarities are culturally based. They grew up in specific cultures, which have traditions that date back thousands of years sometimes. You may have not grown up in the same culture, but this doesn’t mean that you are any better or worse. People of the other races are people after all. They deserve the same respect that you want others to give to you.”
“You should be kind to pets. Nothing bothers me more than seeing cruelty to domesticated animals like cats and dogs. People develop attachments to their pets for a reason. The cat is like a buddy that never questions what you do. The dog is like your best friend because it will always be happy to see you. You can love these animals unconditionally and not have it hurt you. Why would anyone else think of harming these animals? They are like human beings in many ways and therefore should be treated as such.”
“We should be good to our environment. Without it we couldn’t survive. The trees, the meadows, the lakes, the ponds, the rivers, and the land are nature’s gift to us. These things allow us to survive, so why would we be intent on destroying them? Why pollute the rivers when they give us water to drink? Why keep tearing down trees when they provide natural shade and give oxygen for us to breathe? Why constantly drill into the earth just to support an advanced industrial age? That same earth, when treated more gently, can give us food to eat. And isn’t that the whole purpose to work? We work to eat; there is really no other reason. One could say they enjoy what they do for a living, but the fruit is still the same. Someone else could hate doing the exact same job and still get the same reward, namely money for buying food, clothing and shelter. We should therefore treat our environment with respect.”
Society is plagued by many problems, and so there are various causes created to solve them. The above review covers a few of the well-known causes, and there is an underlying theme: give respect. To elicit that respect, the champions present knowledge. We are taught how others are not really different from us. The same sentiment then extends to the community, the nation, and the world. From studying the Vedas, however, such knowledge comes immediately. Rather than target a specific area for understanding, the true scientific understanding of every life force is given at the outset. From this even more knowledge develops.
The person who wants to stop domestic violence teaches us that women are the same as men. The person who wants to stop racism teaches us that all races are the same in quality. The person who wants to stop abuse of animals says that all creatures should be respected, for they are living life. The person who wants to stop abuse of the environment says that nature is part of the world too, so it should be given respect.
In the Vedas, the complete understanding is given. Every living being is a spirit soul at the core. The soul is what animates anything that is animated. The tree is even a spirit soul. Though it is technically a nonmoving creature, the inability to move does not disqualify its status as a life force. When it is chopped down, it is no longer alive, in the same way that a human being who passes on is no longer living. Nevertheless, while it is alive, the tree is a living force. The same holds true for the animals, the insects, the beasts and the aquatics.
“Those with the vision of eternity can see that the soul is transcendental, eternal, and beyond the modes of nature. Despite contact with the material body, O Arjuna, the soul neither does anything nor is entangled.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 13.32)
The soul is indestructible. At the time of death it simply carries over to some other body. The bodies are different. There is no denying this. Even identical twins don’t have the same bodies after a while. One of the twins eats pizza all the time and the other is on a juice diet. How then can their bodies be the same? Spiritually they are identical in quality. Spirit is immutable, unchanging, undying and primeval. The outward indication of spirit is consciousness, and this consciousness carries over from lifetime to lifetime, like the air carrying aromas.
In none of the discussion thus far have we touched on a Hindu religion or a Christian religion. We haven’t mentioned faith, either. The facts of the soul are not sectarian. They are scientific principles easily understood, yet very rarely accepted. The same ignorance that leads one to behave violently towards their fellow man and the nature around them precludes them from accepting basic facts of the universal presence of spirit.
His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada says that knowing only the presence of the spirit soul in all life forms can save one from the contamination of material illusion. Only under illusion do we think that the animals are soulless. Only under illusion do we think that some races are inferior and others superior. Only under illusion do we think that a human being elected to a post is godlike, where he can deliver what we want on a whim. Only under illusion do we think that we can create a document through mental speculation alone and give it unassailable status for providing guidance in life.
Spirit has a source. There is an original spiritual storehouse. Generally that source is referred to as God. Since all souls come from Him, His influence is distributed everywhere. The quality of fire is warmth, and it is the same in every sphere. If I light a fire in my room, it creates warmth. This works no matter where I am. I could be in the North Pole or somewhere in Africa near the equator and the fire will still have its warmth.
The spirit soul is the same way. Whether we see the body of an ant or a human being, a soul is still present. Since the soul is tied to God, a part and parcel of Him, we actually see God everywhere. From this basic principle of the Vedas we have a way of seeing God, debunking the misconception that God is a manmade figure or a mythical character. And seeing God is only the first step. The constitutional position of the spirit soul is servant of God, so from seeing that God’s influence is everywhere, one can easily take up service to Him.
Like fire to burn in wood or in tree,
Presence of Supreme Lord in all to see.
He is both here and there,
In all creatures, He is everywhere.
In all societal causes taken up,
Similar vision in others to open up.
From Vedas complete vision to get,
To see God and in service be set.