“Demons think of everyone as a friend or enemy, but Vaishnavas say that since everyone is a servant of the Lord, everyone is on the same platform. Therefore a Vaishnava treats other living entities neither as friends nor as enemies, but instead tries to spread Krishna consciousness, teaching everyone that we are all one as servants of the Supreme Lord but are uselessly wasting our valuable lives by creating nations, communities and other groups of friends and enemies.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Shrimad Bhagavatam, 7.5.12 Purport)
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1. What if you were a different gender?
“I get it that you are proud to belong to a certain gender. You are a member of support groups. You attend meetings. You consider yourself to be a bold and fearless activist for the cause. You want to make change in the world.
“What about the other gender, though? What if you belonged to that? Okay, you are not in that way right now, but consider the other person’s experience. That is how they were born. Are their issues not important? Are they automatically an enemy based on their interaction with nature?”
2. What if you were born in a different country?
“You are taking up arms to fearlessly defend your borders. You take identity from the place in which you live, the prevailing culture, and the people within your community. You are proud of the country’s history, of its founders, and the mark it has left in the world.
“What about people from other countries, though? Are they not worthy of attention? Should they not be proud of where they live? Are they not worthy of being heard, based solely on geography?”
3. What if you inherited a different religion?
“I get it that the people of this region belong to a particular religion. That is what they practice, at the moment. If you raise objections, you will be ostracized. You will likely lose all of your friends. People will label you a lowly sinner.
“What about people living in other parts of the world, though? They follow a different religion. Are they not people? Are they not searching after God? Are they not interested in eternal life, in reaching heaven? Why should they be ignored?”
4. What if you had a different occupation?
“You are proud of what you do for a living. You are making a difference in the world. Society depends on you. You are on the front lines of important battles. As they like to say, not all heroes wear capes.
“What about people in other occupations, though? Are they worthless? Do they not feel pain? Do they not persevere through difficulty? Do they not worry about right and wrong, doing a good job, and being meaningful contributors to society?”
5. What if you were in a different class of people?
“You want to live in a safe neighborhood. You want peace and quiet. You want to drive the best car. You want to eat out at a restaurant and not have to deal with hooligans, thugs, and degenerates. There should be some benefits to living in your class.
“What about other classes, though? Are they not people? Do they not want similar things? What if you were born into those circumstances? Would you like it if people ignored you? Would you be satisfied to live in terror, to have crime all around you, with no hope in sight?”
His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains that the modern civilization is based on bodily designations and that this system of identification is the root cause of the widespread misery and suffering.
More importantly, there cannot be God consciousness at the highest levels as long as these artificial designations remain. That high level of consciousness is necessary for escaping from the cycle of birth and death.
Independent of the benefits received, removing artificial designations aligns with intelligence. I may not be looking to lose weight. I may not necessarily be interested in training for an upcoming athletic competition. I may not be trying to fit into clothes or preparing for a photo shoot.
I just know that maintaining good habits with respect to diet and exercise is the right thing to do. A healthy body allows for optimal performance in the life experience, in whichever direction that performance goes.
In the same way, the wise person understands that spirit soul is the proper source of identification. This knowledge will be beneficial in the long run. It is the first step in the progress towards realization of the self.
ब्राह्मणे गवि हस्तिनि
शुनि चैव श्व-पाके च
brāhmaṇe gavi hastini
śuni caiva śva-pāke ca
“The humble sage, by virtue of true knowledge, sees with equal vision a learned and gentle brahmana, a cow, an elephant, a dog and a dog-eater [outcaste].” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 5.18)
Without consciousness of God there is no peace in this world. Artificial designations create divisions. Anyone who crosses a line of division becomes a potential enemy. They are considered an agitator. They are aggressively invading a territory in which they do not belong.
This viewpoint is based on the artificial designation. There is no consideration to the life experience of the person on the opposite side. They are living the life experience just as much as the person casting judgment. The friend is on my side, the enemy opposes me, but at the end of the day there is really no difference.
I am spirit soul, part and parcel of God. You are spirit soul, part and parcel of God. We are in the same situation. Your timeline of beginning, middle, and end might be different from mine, in the relative sense. I may be closer to the end than you are, but it is the same experience. There is the same vulnerability to anger, wrath, jealousy, and other negative emotions. There is the same bewilderment due to illusory forces.
काम एष क्रोध एष
विद्ध्य् एनम् इह वैरिणम्
kāma eṣa krodha eṣa
viddhy enam iha vairiṇam
“The Blessed Lord said: It is lust only, Arjuna, which is born of contact with the material modes of passion and later transformed into wrath, and which is the all-devouring, sinful enemy of this world.” (Bhagavad-gita, 3.37)
God consciousness is the way towards transcendence, and that consciousness begins with the removal of artificial designations. Awareness of each individual’s spiritual identity, always linked to the Supreme Spirit, is one step closer to understanding God.
Despite transcendence trying,
Guilty of designations applying.
That this person my friend to consider,
Others the opposing policy to mirror.
But the same at the end,
Spirit soul everywhere to extend.
Awareness from God knowledge through,
For finding peace and happiness too.
Categories: the five
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