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Equality or Injustice?
By Red Willow Mataji
A deeper dive into the pop culture of equality
In our modern world, 'equality' is of growing importance to the masses. Through various media forms it is strongly suggested that we should expect to be viewed by others without any form of discrimination based on bodily designations, whether it be gender, race, nationality, sexual preference, or lifestyle choices. This altruistic approach seems to be attempting to solve the tensions between various sects of society and it may appear to be of the highest benefit for all people. But, if we take a closer look at this popular movement, we can observe that it is not actually equality that is being propagated, and instead of the acceptance of individuality, it is in fact, the negation of not only individuals, but also of variety itself. We are eternally individuals, which is why this equal rights propaganda has been so largely successful; because we inherently value our individuality and we want to protect that.
If you do not accept everyone as deserving of all the same rights and treatment, then you are an offender, punishable by heinous acts of violence and shaming. The kind of aggression and severe sectarianism that has followed this sort of imposed movement of the pop culture is a sure sign that something is awry here. The total amalgamation of varieties, in the guise of embracing variety, has created an increasingly more dangerous and degraded situation.
Along with the final annihilation of the family unit, there are many other inscrutable consequences that come along with this pervasive mindset. Instead of being supported and protected by the father, sons, brothers, or husband, the modern woman is subjected to an underlying expectation to perform, provide, and nurture. She must be the man and the woman (and she must look good while doing it). Neutralizing naturally occurring variety stems from a severe level of impersonalism, which has festered for many, many years in places which value productivity over persons.
This neutralization is extremely favorable for economic productivity, and the best part is that the people are willing and enthusiastic participants. This subtle system of slavery has become more and more cunning with the gradual introduction of powerful technologies, such as the 'smart' phone. In everyone's pocket, in front of everyone's face, 24/7, this medium of technology has the influence of billions and billions of billboards, commercials, and advertisements tailored specifically to each individual's likes and dislikes, injected directly into the minds of just about every person in this day and age–instantaneously.
This message of so-called equality has gone global overnight and we are seeing the dangerous symptoms of such an unscientific, illogical, and baseless philosophy. What is being pushed on us as 'equality', is actually a huge over-generalization which robs individuals of their unique roles within society, and which allows for a diverse interaction of many moving parts, all properly situated for their particular natures.
This generalization of individuals is Mayavada philosophy–impersonalism, in disguise as personalism. A wolf in sheep's clothing; equality for all–or the most subtle injustice of our time?
This pure sentimentalism is leading the masses in a direction that may prove quite difficult to come back from. We know from Srila Prabhupada just how dangerous exposure to Mayavada philosophy can be for our spiritual life, "Once one is associated with impersonalists, he can never understand the personal feature of the Lord and His transcendental pastimes." (SB 3.19.33 Purport). A massive part of Srila Prabhupada's mission is to destroy the Mayavadi philosophers with real science and logic.
Thankfully, we are armed with the perfect philosophy that is given to us by Srila Prabhupada, himself knowing very well that the movement of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is the only real welfare work to be done in an age of increasing degradation. Because we have been given this torchlight of knowledge, we are most fortunate even to be able to see this shift in our society for what it really is. Just another tactic for misleading the people away from Krishna, and deeper into body-consciousness and the illusion of I, me, and mine. "The activities of Mayavada philosophy are very dangerous to the public, and therefore Lord Caitanya warned us never to hear from any Mayavadi about any scripture. They will spoil the entire process, and the person hearing them will never be able to come to the path of devotional service to attain the highest perfection, or will be able to do so only after a very long time." (SB 3.25.34 Purport). What is revealed in the sastra about equality? What does real equality mean?
Equality can only be defined through reference to something which it is to be measured against. There must be some objective reference for understanding our equality or inequality with everything and everyone else. What equalizes us is the fact that we are constitutionally spirit souls, and we are all a part of Krishna. In this sense, we can know that we all have the same function–service to Krishna. What makes us equal is not that we are all the same, it's that we are all different. We each have a unique service relationship with Krishna, so, although we are united as parts and parcels of Krishna, we are diverse by our unique relationship with Him. We fill specific roles in the spiritual world, all for Krishna's pleasure. The situation here in the material world is a perverted reflection of this reality.
Krishna is the objective factor which all of our value is measured against because He is the sum total of all value, of all quality, which we are small qualitative parts. If we do not measure our value or our quality in reference to Krishna, then the default standard is sense gratification. This earthly equal rights movement is aimed at sense-gratification only and this is exactly why it will never address the root of the problem of inequality. How can we preserve equal rights if we are all only concerned with our own sense gratification? It is not possible. Our sense gratification comes at the cost of the suffering of others.
Our value does not come from our skin tone, gender, nationality, race, creed, etc. The only value is the eternal spirit soul, and on this basis, we all have an equal right to revive our relationship with Krishna and to lead others towards Him. This is the philosophy propounded by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu, called acintya-bheda-bheda-tattva–simultaneous oneness and difference. We are only united in our diversity, this diversity is there to increase the pleasure of Krishna. This is the proper lens from which to understand the actual meaning of equality.
Only while we are here in the world of duality are we duty bound to stand in these roles designated by our previous karma. Once we take up our natural constitution of loving devotional service, then these designated roles do not have so much influence over us. We come to the realization that we have a spiritual body which is completely unique in its respective service relationship with Krishna. Even one who transcends duality, and yet remains acting in this world, still does not disregard his designated role within the material universe because he becomes totally unaffected by these designations and instead of being subjugated by their limiting boundaries, he dovetails his position in the service of the Lord very expertly. Because he is above these concepts such as woman, man, American, Indian, Russian, he/him, they/them, etc... he uses his given position to glorify Krishna, in order to lead others on the right path and the right way to make the best use of a bad bargain.
He knows that, "Whatever action a great man performs, common men follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues." (Bg. 3.21) One should not be attached to any materialistic activities, but a devotee may perform such activities as an example to show the common man that one should not deviate from the Vedic injunctions." (SB 7.10.24 Purport). The Vedic injunctions are given by Krishna Himself, and He is the only objective from which we can ascertain our value, or equality, otherwise it has no meaning. Krishna provides us with the road map to help us navigate this strange world of dualities, so that we may know how to live right and perform our prescribed work without a doubt. "It is far better to discharge one’s prescribed duties, even though faultily, than another’s duties perfectly. Destruction in the course of performing one’s own duty is better than engaging in another’s duties, for to follow another’s path is dangerous." (BG 3.35) It was no mistake that we were given the body we were given, or that we took birth in the family we did. Unlike us conditioned souls, Krishna does not make mistakes, He is full of Knowledge, He knows what we need although we may only have limited knowledge.
While the Bhagavad Gita is being spoken, or rather, sung, Krishna is telling Arjuna exactly this point... Arjuna is a ksatriya by birth, but he becomes sentimental upon seeing his relatives on the battlefield about to be slaughtered and decides that he would rather take up the work of a wandering renunciate rather than do his duty, which is to fight. Krishna tells him that he is being foolish, and that he should perform his duty, but all the while he should meditate upon Him, upon Krishna. He teaches him the process of devotional service–this is the answer for his major crisis of duty. This is also the answer for all of our crises that come along with the bodies we have been given, and the duties that are required of us within these bodies.
Krishna says that we should not falsely try to engage in another's duty, because this is much more dangerous than performing our own duty, even if we do so rather ungracefully and imperfectly, even if it is painful or uncomfortable. "Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment." (BG 3.5) It is actually a huge sacrifice for the common man to accept his position as given by material nature. But, to accept another's position and everything that comes along with it is not real sacrifice–it is a major gamble. Human life is meant for sacrifice, not for gambling. "My dear Arjuna, one who does not follow in human life the cycle of sacrifice thus established by the Vedas certainly leads a life full of sin. Living only for the satisfaction of the senses, such a person lives in vain." (BG 3.16) The greatest injustice of our time is to take advantage of man’s natural propensity for discovering their unique identity and use it to induce them to gamble away the opportunity given by the Lord in their natural position for their upliftment from a life of duality into the realm of the Absolute.