How Do We Answer The Question Of Racial Identity

[Krishna's lotus feet]“The living entity, thus taking another gross body, obtains a certain type of ear, tongue, and nose and sense of touch, which are grouped about the mind. He thus enjoys a particular set of sense objects.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 15.9)

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श्रोत्रं चक्षुः स्पर्शनं च
रसनं घ्राणम् एव च
अधिष्ठाय मनश् चायं
विषयान् उपसेवते

śrotraṁ cakṣuḥ sparśanaṁ ca
rasanaṁ ghrāṇam eva ca
adhiṣṭhāya manaś cāyaṁ
viṣayān upasevate

Friend1: I heard someone on the radio say something interesting recently. The context was a discussion about public education and what kinds of things students learn these days.

Friend2: Positive or negative?

Friend1: What do you mean?

Friend2: Was the person praising the system or were they critical due to certain errors and the like?

Friend1: It was mostly critical. They put the blame on multi-culturalism, as it is known.

Friend2: I see. I’m not even sure what that is.

Friend1: Me, neither, but a teacher was giving testimony and they described an assignment they received in a class while studying for their masters degree.

Friend2: This was part of their teacher’s training? Before they took charge of a classroom?

Friend1: They were already an established teacher, but this study was for earning an advanced degree. I guess so that they could start training adults to be mentors or something like that.

[classroom]Friend2: I see. What was this assignment?

Friend1: They were asked to write a paper describing when they first learned of their racial identity.

Friend2: Huh? What?

Friend1: I know! I had the same response.

Friend2: Who even thinks like that?

Friend1: I don’t know. Obviously, someone must be focused on the externals.

Friend2: How would you even answer something like that?

Friend1: I am bringing it up to you. I am assuming if you are in the minority population based on race, then you would identify much sooner than if you were in the majority.

Friend2: I would hope that no one ever realizes their racial identity. That is the entire objective of athato brahma-jijnasa. Now is the time for the spirit soul to break through the bounds of material existence, which features duality and temporary assignments based on external features.

Friend1: You are speaking from the religious point of view.

Friend2: Whatever label you want to affix, it is just common sense. If I begin to identify based on country of origin, gender, ancestry, height, skin color, or language spoken, I have not used my intelligence to the full.

Friend1: Okay, but the entire world draws such distinctions. They make identifications on precisely the attributes you mentioned.

Friend2: They are wrong. Sorry, we are wrong. This is a shared problem. The acharya leads by example to correct. His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada gives the most valuable and necessary education. Learn that I am spirit soul. I am not this body.

Friend1: Those two truths – profound.

Friend2: Know that if I come upon some racial identity in this life, I could very well be something different in the next one. The spirit soul travels on this spinning wheel of sorts, and there are different kinds of features assumed within each duration of association, which is a lifetime.

Friend1: If you were taking such a class, how would you complete the assignment?

Friend2: As I told you, I would hope to never come upon a racial identity. Prahlada Maharaja never saw himself as a Daitya demon. Vibhishana never considered himself to be a vile man-eater. Hanuman never thought he and his friends were just uncivilized apes.

Friend1: Okay, but the body type does influence behavior, to a certain degree.

[Krishna's lotus feet]Friend2: Every person must follow their nature. Of that there is no doubt. But that doesn’t mean the temporary nature defines me. We are in a shared experience, in this wonderful world created by God, inhabited by equally potent spiritual sparks associating with different vessels for a period of time. The day I realize my spiritual identity, as being part and parcel of the Supreme Lord Krishna, I have reached a milestone truly worthwhile. That is an experience the world would be enlightened to hear.

In Closing:

Hoping one day to reach,
So that to others can teach.

Knowing my identity real,
And shared experience to feel.

Not that defined by race,
Or appearance of face.

Since as in this life body receiving,
And as same spirit soul then leaving.

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