Recently, I was fortunate enough to be on a panel discussion about anti-Semitism at B’Nai B’Rith senior housing apartment. As I heard the speakers voice their opposition to anti-Semitism and support for the people of the Jewish faith, the words of one of the adages of Hinduism reverberated again and again in my mind . . . .
Aham Brahmasmi – I am Bramhan – I am the whole.
The ancient wisdom proclaims that the true I in me is the same in you. The same divinity is in you and me, and in everything. Therefore, once I realize that we are composed of the same divinity, I cannot hate you based on you being yourself. A teacher once explained to me that according to Hindu philosophy if I was an earthen pot, then God or the divine force was the potter, the intellect of making the pottery, the clay used to make the pot, and also the content of the pot. The same God permeates me, you and everything. Our separateness is an illusion, or Maya. In our human state, in our daily existence, we have to behave in a manner respecting this illusion, but if in our inner mind we constantly remind ourselves of our universal oneness, then peace is the direct result.
In our conversations we use similes like brave as a lion, beautiful as a rose, crafty as a fox. What is the simile for a human? I believe it is “kind as a human.” Human beings by their primary nature are kind. However, due to external factors we get tarnished and our true self gets hidden. We try to identify the self by defining ourselves as distinct from others. This distinctness is supposed to be our selfness. The defining border first includes ourselves as an individual, then family, then relatives, and then some group of individuals. This concept then mandates that someone has to be the others. For one reason or another, the others then get vilified. To rise above hate, we should not just tolerate others, but we should accept and respect them. The highest level is when we do not feel that someone is other.
A woman finds a lost child on the street outside her house. She cleans him, clothes him, and feeds him. After handing the child back to the authorities, she feels the satisfaction of service. Later in the day when she does the exact things to her own son, she does not give a second thought, and continues with her daily chores. Her kindness towards her own son was natural for her, and that kindness was so innate that it did not even register as something special she did for another human being.
The rose will emanate its fragrance when worn in the hair of a beautiful woman, in a ditch by the side of the road, or in a pile of excrement. External factors will not alter its innate attribute. Each of us is like that rose. Our aroma is our kindness. Let us recognize the shared divinity within all the creation, express our true nature, and live in peace.