All around the world, racism and prejudice are huge problems that cause so much suffering for both the person who is bearing the brunt of racism and the person who is suffering the pain of hatred of others because of their physical body, their race. In this enlightening talk, Jagad Guru Siddhaswarupananda explains how spiritual love and wisdom overcome and destroy racism and hate, opening the way to a happier, more harmonious society.
Love And Wisdom Overcome Racism And Hate
Jagad Guru: In the world today we see many people that are suffering from racism and they are suffering from two sides. One is those who are the brunt of someone else’s racism, that person is suffering, and the person who is experiencing hatred or a feeling of separation from others or a dislike for others because of their physical body, their race, that person is also suffering.
You know, there’s a saying that if somebody hates, it’s not just the person he hates that suffers but it’s rather he himself that suffers. I’ll give you the example of a person who hates children of God because they have black bodies. Say somebody has a black body on or a Japanese body on, and I hate that person, “I hate blacks. I hate Japanese” or, “I hate white people, haoles.” When that person goes home after being out on the street and experiencing hatred for what he sees here and hatred for what he sees there, while he is sitting there he still has it. Whereas the person who is the brunt of his hatred or his glare or his discriminatory remark, that person just heard it; it’s just for a second and it’s gone, you see? Unless, you know, it sticks to him because he is too concerned about what other people think about him.
It’s kind of like somebody walking by me and saying, “Hey, brown sweater,” (laughter) and I have a brown sweater on. The guy doesn’t like the color of my sweater, it’s like saying he doesn’t like the color of my skin. You see, the body is just like a pair of clothes we are wearing. Our real identity is we are spirits, we are spiritual beings and we are in temporary material bodies and they are different colors, different ages, different sexes, and so on. I am not this body. So we have to understand, “I am not this body. I am the spirit soul within this body. I am a spark of God.” So somebody walks by me and saying, “Hey, brown sweater!”, you know, and I go, “‘Guy doesn’t like brown sweaters,” you know? But I don’t go home and think about it, you know, thinking, “Gee, my… that guy really hated my sweater. (laughter) Really… such a nice, fuzzy sweater,” you know?
I would feel that, I would be immersed in that, of course, if, what? I’d be stuck in that at home, if what? If I thought I was my sweater. “I am my brown sweater. This guy doesn’t like my brown sweater. He doesn’t like me. No one loves me. I’m alone,” you see? So if the person who’s suffering, the person who suffers from the feeling of unhappiness due to somebody else’s racism upon him, it’s in large part due to falsely identifying himself as his body. In large part, not completely.
Sometimes it’s simply a matter of it’s hard to be peaceful if it’s so intense, like if you have black skin and you live in the South in the 1950’s or 40’s or something, then it comes down to just, you know, more of a real thing in the sense of wanting to have some peace and quiet and they are out there burning things on your yard and… crosses, and yelling that they are going to lynch you and having to keep your kids from getting run over by a truck of Ku Klux Klansmen or something.
But if it’s more a situation where you just have somebody disliking you because of their own hatred, their own ignorance, disliking you because of the color of your body, just like they dislike you because of the color of your shirt, then that can be overcome through the understanding that, “I am not my body.”
So we have to have this understanding otherwise we will constantly be experiencing the negativity in connection with other people’s unhappiness and their hatred. We always have to experience that person’s hate. He hates me because of the color of my skin, my sweater, my shirt, and I am stuck with it. I have to sit around and think about it and worry about it or care about it, you see? So understanding I’m not my body, that solves this to a large extent.
And the other thing that helps a person be free from other people’s hatred towards me, helps me be free from someone’s hatred towards me because of the color of my body or something, is what? Anyone know? Don’t worry, I’ll tell you. (laughter) It is the knowledge that God loves me. The appreciation that God loves me. That guy doesn’t love me; big deal! He doesn’t like me because of the color of my skin or because of one reason or another, it doesn’t matter because my happiness is not going to come from being loved by everyone in the world but rather it will come from appreciating that the one Who is the source of everyone in this world, the Father of everyone in this world, loves me.
It’s almost like a child, because we are all children of God. It’s like a child and we have our common father, and one of my brothers has gone weird. He’s forgot he’s my brother and he’s gotten very hateful and envious and he hates my guts. He doesn’t like me. It’s a bother when he’s around, but when I don’t see him, “Ah, no big deal.” Do you understand that? He’ll grow out of it. If my father loves me, right, my mother loves me, then that’s… But if my father doesn’t love me or I don’t know that my father loves me, and I think that my father doesn’t accept me, then even if all my brothers loved me, I still wouldn’t be happy. I still couldn’t be at peace. Do you understand this?
But the reality is is that God is the Supreme Father, the Supreme Spirit, and God loves me. So if I know that God loves me then I can experience, or I will automatically experience satisfaction or fulfilment even if everybody else hates my guts. What to speak of if it’s just, you know, the odd racist who hassles me. That’s not going to bother me, because I have the happiness from within myself knowing that I’m accepted by God.
You see, one of the main reasons why we don’t like people disliking us is because of the feeling of rejection, not really because there’s going to be physical violence or because they are going to hurt us in some way or whatever, but it’s simply because we like to be accepted, we like to be loved. This is natural. We want to be loved. By nature, we are happy when we are loving and when we are experiencing being loved and we are unhappy when we are hating and when we are experiencing being hated. So if we are experiencing God’s love upon us and we are experiencing ourselves as being spiritual in nature… we are not our bodies so even if somebody doesn’t understand this due to their ignorance and they hate me or they put something forth towards me where they reject me because of the color of my skin or something it will not touch me. It won’t hurt me. It won’t affect me.
So this is the protection. This is my spiritual protection – spiritual knowledge, spiritual realization. God knows how unworthy I am of His love. He knows this. Yet He loves me anyway. “Dear Lord, please let me love others as You love me, unconditionally.” If I appreciate God’s love for me is unconditional, despite my faults, then I can even have love for my so-called enemies. In other words, one who hates me because of the color of my skin, what do I immediately naturally begin to experience towards that person? Anger or hatred towards him. And then I suffer, not from his hatred or his rejection of me, but I suffer from my hatred and my rejection of him. So it’s not just suffering from one thing here. I’m suffering from two things. The suffering of the pain of his rejecting me, but then the suffering of the pain – which is even greater – and that is of my rejecting him, or my hating that person.
Why does it hurt me? Why does it internally actually cause me a type of suffering to hate another person? Why is it intrinsically painful to me, in my heart? What is it? Why is it like that? It’s because that person is my brother. And when I experience rejecting or hatefulness towards such a close relative, it hurts. That person is also the child of God, despite his imperfection. Despite his imperfection, he, too, is a child of God. So I hate that person, I’m hating my brother. Then that is painful.
In the Sri Isopanisad, Mantra Seven, the Lord states,
One who always sees all living entities as spiritual sparks, in quality one with the Lord, (that is, not material) becomes a true knower of things. What, then, can be illusion or anxiety for him?
Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 7
In Mantra Six it states,
A person who sees everything in relation to the Supreme Lord, who sees all living entities as God’s, as the Lord’s parts and parcels, as the Lord’s children, and who sees the Supreme Lord within everything, never hates anything nor anyone.
Sri Isopanisad, Mantra 6
It’s our own hatred of others that causes us the pain. And when we experience prejudice upon ourself, hatred towards ourself, rejection towards ourselves, then we immediately suffer from having this back towards those persons.
This is why you end up with, for example, in L.A. now you have blacks versus Koreans, you see? The black gets angry at the Korean. The Korean gets angry at the black. Then the neighbors. And then pretty soon you’ve got community versus community. Everybody gets caught up in the suffering. Everybody is suffering because of it. Not just the people who were the receivers of that hatred. So such racism is a cause of great suffering for those who are experiencing it, those who have it within their hearts.
So we don’t want to be prejudiced not only against anyone because of their race, but we don’t want to be prejudiced in the sense of hating or rejecting anyone for any reason at all. So Jesus says, “Love your enemy.” This is the meaning of ‘love your enemy’, you see? That’s the meaning of it. Your enemy is the one who doesn’t like you, you see? Your enemy is the one that comes up and says nasty things to you, they come up and they do this and they do that, or they may even crucify you. So Jesus loved His enemies so much that they crucify Him, they nail Him to the cross and what does He do? His last thing, one of the last things… what is He feeling at that point? “Dear Father, please forgive them. They just don’t know what they are doing.”
Of course, the Lord does not forgive them because they are committing such a great offense against a devotee of God; but such love is possible if we actually surrender to God. It’s possible by His mercy. We can have such love. It’s not something that we can do. I mean, if you try to love your enemy, that’s going to be impossible. We can only pray to God that He give us such love as He has for us; that is, unconditional.
It doesn’t mean we can’t defend ourselves. It doesn’t mean that we cannot try to maintain or prevent our family from being raped, tortured and murdered. This is not a call for pacifism.
Racism, on the other end, we suffer from it. We see the suffering caused by people’s racism towards others, you know? They burn their buildings, burn their houses down, or as Hitler did, tried to exterminate all the Jews by gassing and burning and so on. There is so much suffering caused by this. And ultimately the suffering that is caused by those who are racists cannot be solved simply by hating the racist but it can be solved by loving the racist and educating the racist, even if it means educating them by popping them in the nose in self-defence once in a while.
You know, we are our brother’s keeper and it doesn’t do our brothers any good to let them continue to engage in such demoniac activities of… such sinful activities of murdering and killing and trying to exterminate people; and that’s why a Christian nation like the United States ended up, partially at least due to its Christian conscience, going up against and taking arms against and fighting against Nazi Germany. Sometimes in order to do good, you must engage in violence. This is an unfortunate part of our existence in this material world, but the hatred is not necessary. The love is there that is able to forgive. It does not mean that the love is there and that that will make it so that I become a sitting duck for his violence. But the love is there to tolerate his hatred, tolerate the existence of his hatred, and the love is there which will try to educate and try to help him go beyond his hatred. In other words, I’m not going to hate somebody just because they hate me because of the color of my skin. That’s called tolerance.
So racism… everyone in the world now is concerned about this question of racism and sometimes we think that the issue can be solved simply by political maneuverings or changing things around. You know, like in the United States they tried to solve the racism problem by making it so that everybody with black skin and everybody with white skin will be forced to live right next to each other or forced to go to the same schools, you see? And so they started bussing all the black kids over to the white kids’ schools and all the white families moved out of the area and they are black schools again. And now the schools that used to be black schools, they are all white schools because the white guys ran around and went the other way. (laughter) Now they are back where the black schools are. “Oh, what am I? What happened?” And the politicians after twenty years are scratching their heads and trying to figure this out, “Hmm!” They are trying to engage in this kind of ‘social engineering’ without any change in people’s consciousness or attitudes. You can’t do it like that. It’s false. You have to actually help people understand that we are not our bodies, just like we are not our shirts. And as soon as we understand we are not our bodies, just like we appreciate we are not our shirts, then racism is finished. There is no foundation for racism if we understand we are not our bodies.
So we have to try to do our best to educate people concerning our real spiritual identities – how we are all children of God – and this is our part, this is the only way that we can really try to make it so that this problem of racism and the social problems connected to it and the suffering connected to it both by both parties, those who hate and those who are being hated, the suffering on the part of everybody will be actually overcome. And this is our business, trying to help people overcome their suffering or eliminate people’s suffering. And this is possible through self-realization, spiritual understanding. Thank you very much.