Racism arises because we have desires lingering in our hearts.
To fulfil those desires, we have developed discrimination. That discrimination allows us to pursue and fulfil worldly desires.
It allows us to distinguish between day and night, hot and cold, good and bad.
With this perspective, we see someone as tall or short, beautiful or ugly, knowledgeable or ignorant, multiculturally tolerant or a racist.
We label objects, places and events either in positive or negative terms according to our discrimination.
The choices we make in this world and our own particular set of preferences depend upon our capacity to discern differences and recognize dualities.
By nature, we want to pursue what we perceive as good and reject what we perceive as bad. Hence we pursue and maintain dualisms necessitating a bodily concept of life and death.
Through our thoughts, our words and our deeds, we reinforce and enhance our relationships with matter and form. Because we’re unable to see ourselves as a spirit soul, we’re unable to see others as spirit souls.
In chapter five, verse 18 of Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “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].”
Here, having real equality of vision includes the way we see all other living entities.
This perspective is a basic religious principle. If we want to turn the elephant into a circus entertainment, the dog into a domestic pet and the cow into a steak dinner, then how can we possibly see them as equal?
The trees and flowers, the insects and fish, the birds and all other animals share the quality of having life.
Life is the quality of the soul. Recognizing the soul in all living beings is the basis for equality.
As humans, we’re capable of that level of discrimination. Animals are not.
Animal discrimination is developed to the extent of satisfying the basic needs of sleeping, eating, mating and defending. We also strive to fulfil those same needs, but in a more complex and demanding way that never leaves us satisfied.
Our desires are insatiable.
Even if we sleep to the point of lethargy, eat to the point of gluttony, engage in illicit sex to the point of exhaustion, we will remain unsatisfied.
What’s worse is we fight and struggle to maintain our degrees of indulgence and lament any diminution in their standards.
Our perpetual pursuit of happiness becomes even more complicated due to the need for mental stimuli, such as varieties of entertainment and the abstract discourse provided through social sciences, philosophy and theology.
The more material desires we have, the more we become attached to the fulfilment of those desires and the more we lose any real spiritual intelligence.
Fulfilling our desires necessitates entangling ourselves within the required material activities.
Getting an education so we can qualify for a job and go to work consumes our ambitions and time. As we get more and more caught up in the cogs of our great mechanized economy, we become further removed from our spiritual natures.
We struggle within this world to develop the prerequisite discrimination to aid us in a battle we can never win. We can only eliminate conceptions of racism and find peace through higher states of consciousness.
When our real intelligence is covered by our gross bodies, then we entangle and bind ourselves to worldly conceptions. In the bodily conception of life, there is no possibility of equality.
Materially, none of us are equal. I’m old, you’re young. I’m a man, you’re a woman. I’m a Vaisnav, you’re a Christian. She’s a Muslim, he’s a Jew.
Where is the question of equality?
Real lasting peace and egalitarianism only comes when we have some conception of connectivity beyond this world and we have transcendental knowledge.
Without such peace, there is no possibility of happiness. We will only find lasting satisfaction and relief from insatiable desires through connecting who and what we are with ourselves as souls and ultimately with God.
We have an existence originating beyond our coverings of flesh, the senses, mind, intelligence and ego. With proper spiritual education, practise and association, we can reframe our thoughts actions and deeds.
Objectively, we want to strive for a predominately spiritual, rather than material, mindset and lifestyle. To do that, we need to shift as far away from conceptions of material gratifications and satisfactions as practical, without the crutch of false excuse, and aspire for an absolute connection with spirit.
To test just how far we’ve progressed along this dimension of our spiritual journeys, just ask, “Do I accept fortunes and distresses arising from desires with equilibrium?”
From our answers, we can see just how far we have to go to eliminate that discrimination and racism lingering within our hearts.
Harold Meier lived in Taiwan for more than 20 years, during which he studied Eastern religions, primarily Vedantism, and became a member of the Hare Krishna community. He holds a master’s degree in educational practices. KTW welcomes submissions to its Faith page. Columns should be between 600 and 800 words in length and can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include a very short bio and a photo.