We are different from animals. Animals are compelled to follow only their instincts, yet we, as human beings, have discrimination. Unfortunately, we often misuse this powerful gift. We tend, the present Master has suggested, to discriminate outwardly and falsely when we should discriminate inwardly and truly.
As we relate to other people, we frequently discriminate – differentiate among them – on the basis of social and economic class, gender and skin colour. Outward discrimination based on the circumstances, character, or physical characteristics of others is not the way of the Shabd Masters: never has a person been refused initiation on this basis. Criteria such as caste, position and skin colour do not matter in the eyes of the Masters. Maharaj Charan Singh is quoted in Heaven on Earth:
God is the father of us all and… we are all his children, no matter what religion, caste, race or country we belong to.… If the ocean has no caste, how can the drop have any?
Not only did Hazur make this statement, but he acted to end the discriminatory practise of ‘untouchables’ eating in a separate part of the langar. A second example concerns the hospital he established. He directed that the hospital would be open and free of charge to all those in need, not just satsangis.
On the other hand, inner discrimination is encouraged on the path. This kind of discrimination involves looking into ourselves and learning to discriminate between actions that will help our meditation and actions that will take us further from our spiritual goal. With continuous practise, we can convert our false outer discrimination of other people into an inner discrimination of our own actions. We then become able to recognize what, within us, is aligned with the Master and what, within us, is contrary.
Within ourselves, we are all struggling souls. Our outward differences, so evident in worldly affairs, have no spiritual meaning whatsoever. We focus our attention according to the Master’s directions and, thereby, change our attitude. We start to see that the cruel judgments we make of others are a direct reflection of our own spiritual weaknesses.
It is a challenge for us to accept the Master’s relentless cleansing of us through meditation. Although the process is not always pleasant, one result is a finer ability to discriminate within ourselves. With continuous spiritual practise, our minds are transformed and our relationships with others – even if they are troublesome – become more loving.
The Masters are sensitive to people’s different needs; in fact, they respond to different individuals in different ways. However, there is always love and respect, never denigration or condescension. That’s the way we want to be.
To grow spiritually, we must exchange outward discrimination for inward discrimination. The twists and turns of destiny, which compel us to work out our livelihood and contribute to a harmonious family life, give us opportunities for this inner discrimination on a daily basis. We are not animals who do what we desire without regard for the feelings of others. We are disciples of a perfect Master. When we make the mistake of discriminating against others, we can apologize and change our behaviour. Through meditation, we obtain the inner strength to change our attitudes and actions. Not only do we come to understand that other people are equal to us, but we realize they are the same as us: drops of radiance, all.
Ignorance and selfishness may trip us up, but the Masters remind us through their words and deeds that we can use discrimination for its intended inner purpose. There is the way of the mind and the way of the Shabd: Our discrimination has to do with that sincere inward choice of following one over the other. That effort will automatically help us refrain from cruel, false discrimination.
You have this opportunity to ascend the throne –
Give up your habit of pecking through rubbish heaps.
Soami Ji Maharaj as quoted in Discourses on Sant Mat, Vol.II
Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle: some things are within our control, and some things are not.
Epictetus: the Art of Living: A New Interpretation